Log In | Customer Support   
Home Book Travel Destinations Hotels Cruises Air Travel Community Search:  
Search

Search CruisePage

Book a Cruise
 - CruiseServer
 - Search Caribbean
 - Search Alaska
 - Search Europe
 - 888.700.TRIP

Book Online
Cruise
Air
Hotel
Car
Cruising Area:

Departure Date:
Cruise Length:

Price Range:

Cruise Line:

Forums
 >  Cruise Talk
 >  Rail Talk
 >  Air Talk
 >  Destination Talk
 >  Hotel Talk

Buy Stuff

Reviews
 - Ship Reviews
 - Dream Cruise
 - Ship of the Month
 - Reader Reviews
 - Submit a Review
 - Millennium Cruise

Community
 - Photo Gallery
 - Join Cruise Club
 - Cruise News
 - Cruise News Archive
 - Cruise Views
 - Cruise Jobs
 - Special Needs
 - Maritime Q & A
 - Sea Stories

Industry
 - New Ship Guide
 - Former Ships
 - Port Information
 - Inspection Scores
 - Shipyards
 - Ship Cams
 - Freighter Travel
 - Man Overboard List
 - Potpourri

Shopping
 - Shirts & Hats
 - Books
 - Videos
 - Reservations
 - Vacation Specials
 - Web Deals

Contact Us
 - Reservations
 - Mail
 - Feedback
 - Suggest-a-Site
 - About Us


   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - February 23, 2015

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Royal Caribbean Names Third Oasis Class Ship Harmony of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International’s new generation Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, is set to launch in April 2016. The third in the Oasis class of ships – currently the largest cruise ships in the world – will continue the award-winning cruise line’s philosophy of innovation and imagination to offer a unique vacation adventure for guests.

Royal Caribbean Names Third Oasis Class Ship Harmony of the Seas“We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers. That is why we are calling our third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

Harmony of the Seas, featuring the cruise line’s design of seven distinct neighborhoods for which Oasis class is known, will offer the most amazing collection of experiences, amenities and activities at sea. Guests can test their mettle on the ship’s three multi-story waterslides, all of which twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below. One of the slides also will feature a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.

“The Oasis class ships continue to astound and delight both new and experienced cruisers. They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.”

Harmony of the Seas also will feature a new Bionic Bar on the Royal Promenade. The Bionic Bar was first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and feature robot bartenders serving up one-of-a-kind crafted cocktails while dancing to a fluid beat. Additionally, guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will enjoy RFID technology with Royal WOWBands that provide them access to their staterooms as well as make onboard purchases and reservations. Like her sisters, Harmony also will feature the fastest Internet connection at sea where guests can stream video; Skype with family and friends back at home; and share their vacation memories through social media instantly while at sea.

While Oasis and Allure offered some of the largest staterooms in the fleet, on Harmony of the Seas the company has made some stateroom categories even larger. Interior accommodations also will be outfitted with Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Virtual Balconies which offer a view in every stateroom, while single travelers will have studio stateroom choices. Suite guests also will have exclusive new areas to enjoy, from a well-appointed suite lounge and a private suites-only restaurant called Coastal Kitchen to an exclusive full-service Suite Sun Zone sun deck.

Younger and young-at-heart guests can take a spin on the handcrafted carousel or enjoy a new classic games arcade on the ship’s Boardwalk neighborhood. While parents enjoy the newly relocated Starbucks café on the Boardwalk, kids can meet new friends at a new climbing play area.

Royal Caribbean’s Dynamic Dining will give Harmony of the Seas’ guests a culinary experience as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities with more choice and flexibility than ever before. Those preferring a more traditional cruise dining style may select the “Classic” option which will offer two set seating times. Dynamic Dining’s “Classic” option allows guests to rotate through each of the main complimentary restaurants at an early- or a late-seating time throughout their cruise with their dining group and the same assigned waiter each evening.

New specialty restaurant concepts will provide even more variety for guests including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, with a new teppanyaki menu, and the Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant. The new Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine will give guests the chance to experience a unique culinary adventure for the senses when Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes in a whimsical setting that challenges the imagination with never-before-seen fare.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, please visit Royal Caribbean Press Center.

Princess Unveils New 2016 Europe Cruise Offerings
Princess Cruises announced today its 2016 cruise vacations to Europe featuring five ships sailing to over 130 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe. Guests can choose from itineraries ranging from three to 48 days and on ships ranging from the cruise line’s newest and largest Royal Princess and Regal Princess; to its deluxe Caribbean Princess and Emerald Princess; and its small ship, Pacific Princess, which will visit off-the-beaten path destinations never before visited by the line.

The 2016 season includes the cruise line’s return to the Canary Islands and many maiden ports of call for Princess in Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Scotland. All 2016 Europe cruises open for bookings on March 19, 2015.

“Princess has long been hailed as offering the best cruise itineraries and we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We have many unique and first-time offerings for the 2016 Europe cruise season to appeal to both novice and avid cruisers. We’ve combined the best destinations with our signature onboard innovations like Movies Under the Stars, The Sanctuary and our new Discovery at Sea program to create the most rejuvenating retreats at sea possible for vacation-goers who want to explore this fascinating region.”

Princess Unveils New 2016 Europe Cruise OfferingsCruises to the Mediterranean - Royal Princess will sail on a variety of unique seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises from Barcelona, Rome and Athens. Mediterranean Medley 14-day sailings include destinations rich with ancient history including Rome, Athens and Naples. Collection voyages will sail the entire Mediterranean region visiting Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Malta, Greece and Turkey during 21-day immersive adventures. For the ultimate Mediterranean experience, 28-day Circle Mediterranean voyages will visit 20 destinations in seven countries with all cruises visiting Rome, Athens, Istanbul and the French Riviera.

Pacific Princess will offer a variety of 12-day voyages from Rome, Venice and Barcelona and feature a mix of marquee ports with off-the-beaten-path ports unreachable by larger ships.

For guests sailing from Britain, Emerald Princess will be based in London (Southampton) to offer two-week Mediterranean Adventurer sailings featuring such marquee ports as Florence, Rome and Dubrovnik. Emerald Princess will also sail to the Canary Islands on 11-day voyages, visiting four island destinations in the Canaries and Madeira and Vigo, Spain.

Scandinavia & Russia Cruises - Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, for popular 11-day cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia featuring two full days in St. Petersburg, Russia. Joining her in the region, Emerald Princess will sail select 14-day cruises through the Baltic Sea.

British Isles Cruises - Caribbean Princess, the only cruise ship dedicated to the region for the entire summer season, will visit must-see destinations in the U.K., Ireland and Scotland, including two opportunities to see Scotland’s famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.

Small ship Pacific Princess will offer an all-new way to explore the British Isles on 14-day Irish Counties & Scottish Highlands voyages from London (Dover). The itinerary includes maiden port calls in Ullapool, Scotland and Galway, along the western coast of Ireland.

Iceland & Norway Cruises - Both Emerald Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Emerald Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.

Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic crossing featuring Iceland.

European Cruisetours - Guests can enhance their European travel with four land and sea vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland’s Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; and the Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

Holland America Line's Introduces New 2015 Alaska Land+Sea Journeys
Holland America Line's popular Land+Sea Journeys combine an Alaska cruise with an overland exploration, and in 2015 guests will have more ways than ever to see this remote and off-the-beaten path part of the world. The line is the only cruise company to weave the must-see sights such as Denali National Park — the centerpiece of every Land+Sea Journey — with the seldom-seen sights such as Dawson, City in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush Country in exclusive cruise and land packages to the North.

The 13 options for 2015 range from 10 to 20 days and are in two distinct series with cruise-first or land-first choices: the industry-exclusive Yukon and Denali Land+Sea Journeys and Denali Land+Sea Journeys. Each option combines a three- to seven-night Holland America Line cruise with a one-, two- or three-night stay at Denali National Park. New for 2015, guests will have a great, competitively priced option if they have limited time: a 10-day Denali Land+Sea Journey that combines one night at Denali and a seven-night cruise.

"There are few places in the world that lend themselves so naturally to be explored by combining a cruise with an overland adventure, and with 68 years as a leader in Alaska travel, we are renown for giving our guests the best of Alaska and the Yukon," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Our elegant ships and legendary service perfectly complement our unique ability to deliver Alaska's must-see highlights and wonders of the Yukon."

The Land+Sea Journeys emphasize Holland America Line's 68-year history in showcasing the majesty of Alaska by sea, rail and road while maintaining premium standards throughout the entire vacation. Each Land+Sea Journey showcases places such as Dawson City, Yukon, in the heart of gold rush country; charming Seward, Alaska; the five-star Alyeska Resort; pristine Tombstone park; colorful Skagway, Alaska; and the historic narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Route railroad.

Last year, the line enhanced the program to include a one-hour flight between Fairbanks and Dawson City, bringing Alaska and the Yukon closer together and giving guests more time in the destinations.

Holland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana RiverHolland America Line also acquired the McKinley Chalet, a magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The line is now able to offer Land+Sea Journey guests their own elegant wilderness retreat that features seamless hospitality and sustainable Alaskan cuisine. The hotel serves as the ideal base camp for all adventures at Denali National Park such as flightseeing, ATV adventures, hiking trails, river rafting and more. Accommodations were stylishly updated, and newly appointed mini-suites nestled along the river make for the ultimate retreat. A hotel enhancement program also saw extensive room updates and upgrades to soft goods and hotel decor in properties in Skagway, Fairbanks and Whitehorse.

The five Land+Sea Journeys that include Yukon and Denali range in length from 10 to 20 days and travel roundtrip Vancouver, British Columbia, or between Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska. During these trips guests will enjoy scenic cruising along the Inside Passage and/or Glacier Bay before calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Haines or Skagway, Alaska. In addition to Denali National Park, the overland portion includes Fairbanks and Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon.

The eight Denali Land+Sea Journeys range in length from 10 to 14 days and travel between Vancouver and Fairbanks or Anchorage, Alaska. Included is Glacier Bay scenic cruising where guests can explore the ice-studded fjords of this national treasure for a full eight hours as a park ranger narrates. Ports of call on the cruise portion include Haines or Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, while the overland portion features Denali and Fairbanks.

On double- and triple-night Yukon and Denali and Denali Journeys, the comprehensive six- to eight-hour Tundra Wilderness tour is included for the best way to see epic Denali National Park with its abundance of wildlife and Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. For adventure seekers there also are plenty of optional opportunities to go hiking, rafting, flightseeing and fishing.

Land+Sea Journeys feature luxurious glass-domed McKinley Explorer railcars with comfortable, forward-facing seats and expert commentary by guides between Denali and Anchorage. In addition, Holland America Line's exclusive Explorer Coaches create a superior environment for traveling the highway between Skagway and Dawson City with roomy leather seats, lavish legroom and no more than 44 travelers.

Unique to the Holland America Line cruise experience, Alaska-inspired cuisine is featured throughout both cruise and land components. Optional meal plans have been expanded to include all Land + Sea Journeys and meals on days in Denali and Anchorage. Additionally, knowledgeable interpreters, Journey Hosts, Glacier Bay park rangers and Alaska travel guides are present on most Land+Sea tours and Alaska sailings.

Princess Details 2016 Alaska Cruise and Cruisetour Program
Next summer, six Princess Cruises ships will sail Alaska’s scenic wonderland, offering multiple itinerary options, innovative onboard native cultural experiences and a variety of land and sea vacation packages for further exploring the 49th state’s magnificent interior.

The line’s signature Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, with its unrivaled glacier-viewing opportunities, will be offered on Coral Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess between Whittier (Anchorage) and Vancouver; while cruises through the Inside Passage, with its ever-changing scenery from picturesque shores to friendly coastal towns, will be offered aboard Ruby Princess and Crown Princess from Seattle and Grand Princess from San Francisco.

Princess Details 2016 Alaska Cruise and Cruisetour ProgramWhile onboard, as part of Princess’ immersive North to Alaska! Program, guests will experience expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans including crabbers who appeared on Discovery’s Deadliest Catch and Iditarod winner Libby Riddles; and onboard events celebrating local history and customs like the Klondike Gold Rush and Midnight Sun phenomenon.

In addition, the cruise line’s land and sea vacation packages will offer flexible ways to delve deeper into the fascinating Alaska frontier. Land tours are combined with a seven-day “Voyage of the Glaciers” cruise and include the company’s premier wilderness lodges, luxurious “Direct to the Wilderness” domed rail service, plus visits to the top two attractions in Alaska – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.

“Princess continues to build on ourlong-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation with compelling ways to see and experience The Great Land,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “There’s no better way to see Alaska’s glaciers, wildlife and national parks than from the perspective of our spectacular ships, exclusive rail service and Princess-owned wilderness lodges.”

Alaska Cruises - With 106 departures from Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver and Whittier featuring 15 unique ports and destinations, options abound for exploring Alaska in 2016 aboard Princess ships, including:

• Voyage of the Glaciers – Princess’ most popular Gulf of Alaska offering sailings between Vancouver and Whittier features two glacier-viewing experiences on every voyage, with visits to the UNESCO-listed Glacier Bay National Park plus either Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord.

• Inside Passage –This breathtaking part of Alaska, known for its lush scenery and wildlife-filled fjords, will be featured on seven- and 10-day roundtrip voyages with the option to visit Glacier Bay on select sailings from Seattle and San Francisco. Alaska Land and Sea VacationsPrincess offers guests more than 20 add-on land tour options in 2016, most featuring multiple nights in the Denali area to fully enjoy the wonder of Mt. McKinley. New this year, guests will also be able to purchase a pre-paid meal package for the land portion of their cruisetour. Options include:

• Denali Explorer – As Princess’ most popular cruisetour option, this itinerary features multiple nights at the line’s Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and/or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. Most offer Princess’ exclusive luxury rail service between Whittier and the dramatic Denali National Park area, traveling between the ship and Denali all in one day, plus the opportunity to explore Fairbanks or Anchorage.

• On Your Own – An affordable option for independent-minded travelers, these tours offer a flexible way to see the heart of Alaska. Tours follow similar routes as Denali Explorer options, but do not include any pre-planned excursions, giving travelers the opportunity to customize their own experience.

• Off the Beaten Path – These tours are designed to take travelers beyond Denali to more remote regions of the state such as the Kenai Peninsula and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Connoisseur – These cruisetour options offer the services of a professional tour director and additional time for guests to experience the Great Land. Offering the highest level of service, these tours include most meals and enhanced sightseeing options.

• Heart of the Rockies Plus Rail – This 14-night cruisetour originates in Calgary and includes daylight rail service on the Rocky Mountaineer. The fully escorted land tour combines with a seven-day northbound Voyage of the Glaciers cruise on Star Princess and includes most breakfasts and dinners. Spectacular overnight accommodations are offered at a choice of the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Carnival Triumph Makes Inaugural Call To Dominica
Dominica welcomed Carnival Triumph of Carnival Cruise Lines this week as it made its inaugural call, arriving at the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth. With a passenger capacity of 2,754 and crew size of 1,100, Carnival Triumph sailed to the "Nature Island" from Grenada. This is the Triumph's only scheduled call to Dominica during the 2014/2015 cruise season.

Carnival Triumph Makes Inaugural Call To DominicaTo commemorate the occasion, government officials and tourism stakeholders exchanged plaques with the ship's captain and crew as part of a welcome ceremony aboard the ship. Local steel pan ensemble, Ti Bois and Rhythm and Steels, provided shore side cultural entertainment during the festivities.

"We are excited to welcome Carnival Triumph, its passengers and crew," said Colin Piper, Dominica's director of tourism. "The relationship between Carnival Cruise Lines and Dominica began in 1989, and we are pleased to build on this long-standing partnership.

Upon leaving Dominica the ship sailed to St. Maarten. Carnival Cruise Lines began calling on Dominica in 1989, but stopped in 2010. This is the third CCL vessel to call on the island since 2010.

Cruise tourism is a major component of Dominica's growing tourism sector. During the 2013/2014 cruise season, there were one hundred and eighty-eight (188) calls which translated into 282,404 passengers. An estimated 191 cruise ships are expected to call to Dominica during the 2014/2015 season, bringing 292,210 visitors to the island. So far during the 2014/2015 cruise season, seven ships have made inaugural calls on Dominica.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.52/FONT> + 0.53%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.81 + 3.43%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 - 0.37%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.86 + 10.28%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When French Line's France entered service in 1961 the Salle Des Sports (Sports' Center) on Sun Deck featured what must have been a unique shipboard diversion. What were they? (Hint: there were two of them).

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship that caught fire during a Christmas cruise in 1963 and sank six days later?

Answer - The Dutch built, but Greek owned, TSMS Lakonia sank with substantial casualties on 22nd December, 1963.
courtesy of Bruce McKenzie, Guam.


Cruise News - February 16, 2015

Carnival Corp. to Open $85 Million Port in Dominican Republic in October 2015
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced it will begin welcoming guests at its newly developed Amber Cove port in the Dominican Republic beginning October 2015. Six of Carnival Corporation's nine brands will call on Amber Cove along the country's Amber Coast – a partial filming location for the original Jurassic Park movie – to give cruise passengers another exotic location to explore as part of their vacation experience.

With the opening of the new Amber Cove port, passengers will be able to make stops along the Dominican Republic's north Amber Coast, which has not been regularly visited on cruise itineraries since the 1980s. It will open expanded itinerary options in the Caribbean, the world's most popular region for cruise vacations1, and will pair with the company's Grand Turk Cruise Center only 100 miles to the north to anchor new central Caribbean itineraries for Carnival's nine global brands. In looking to the future, the port is strategically located to be incorporated into itineraries featuring potential stops in Cuba.

Carnival Corporation to Open $85 Million Port in Dominican Republic in October 2015The new $85 million facility represents the largest cruise industry investment ever made in the Dominican Republic, and will feature a two-berth port able to accommodate the largest cruise vessels in operation today. Carnival Corporation has monitored the various stages of the port's construction progress with the use of drones, an innovative development that is being used for the first time as part of the company's port development process. The facility, a joint project between Carnival Corporation and the Rannik family of Grupo B&R, is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. It will provide approximately 430 local jobs.

"The construction of the cruise port at Amber Cove has been an incredible project for our entire country, as well as the Caribbean region as a whole," said Francisco Javier, tourism director of the Dominican Republic. "Carnival Corporation's investment in Amber Cove has already proven beneficial to the economy, and we expect the investment to have a positive long-lasting economic impact. The new port will also give cruise passengers an opportunity to see another part of the Dominican Republic, our Amber Coast, which hasn't been available as part of cruise itineraries in nearly 30 years. This is a very exciting development."

The port will open with a visit from Carnival Victory from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand on October 6, 2015. Following this inaugural visit, five additional Carnival Corporation brands are scheduled to make calls on Amber Cove -- including Cunard's Queen Mary 2 on November 22, P&O Cruises' (UK) Azura on December 5, AIDA Cruises' AIDAvita on December 11, Costa Cruises' Costa Deliziosa on December 31 and Holland America Line's ms Eurodam on January 19.

Additional ships from the company's brands are scheduled to call on the port in late 2015 and through 2016 including Carnival Cruise Line's Fantasy, Splendor, Valor, Sunshine, Conquest and Breeze and Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. These visits will consist of 57 calls by 13 different ships across the six brands taking place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 155,000 guests during this period.

As the world's largest cruising market – representing more than 37 percent of the global cruise business2 – the Caribbean is a strategic geographic region for Carnival Corporation and the overall cruise industry and is highly popular for vacationers.

This new port facility in the Dominican Republic underscores the company's focus on creating great vacation experiences, as passengers sailing the Caribbean will have an exciting new destination to visit. It will also give Carnival Corporation's nine global cruise brands the ability to create more diverse itineraries, another important part of the cruise experience. More than 60 percent of cruisers are repeat passengers, and offering robust itineraries keeps the experience fresh and engaging for them.

"There are several markets that are becoming increasingly important to the cruise industry, but today the Caribbean is the single largest share of our business," said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. "We are constantly looking for new ways for our guests to enjoy their cruise experience, and it is always exciting to add new destinations to our itineraries, especially in the Caribbean where many of our passengers have been before. We are confident that our guests will love visiting Amber Cove, which we believe will quickly become a very popular port of call for our guests. And because Amber Cove is easily accessible, it will give our guests a convenient gateway to the Puerto Plata region, which is spectacular. And importantly, Amber Cove will allow us to offer our guests a new option in our Caribbean itineraries."

The opening of Amber Cove adds to the portfolio of cruise destinations Carnival Corporation has developed in the Caribbean. This includes the Grand Turk Cruise Center in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Puerta Maya on the Island of Cozumel, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan, Honduras. It is one of roughly 60 ports Carnival Corporation's brands visit in the region.

The Amber Cove port is located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's North Coast just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the 1490s and was recently named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the "Best Places to Travel in 2015." This newest Caribbean destination was developed to re-establish the Dominican Republic's North Coast as a popular cruise destination – the last cruise ship to call at Puerto Plata was nearly 30 years ago.

Amber Cove will feature a waterfront welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of unique food and beverage establishments. The port will also include a recreational area featuring amenities such as a pool, splash zone and green space areas. The transportation hub -- the single largest component of the port -- will provide visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.

The new port will host one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in the Caribbean, offering roughly 40 different landside experiences including beaches, water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Many of these excursion offerings will come from well-established local operators. Nearby Ocean World, one of the region's largest marine adventure parks, offers guests popular ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

Norwegian Reports Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2014
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today reported financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2014, and provided guidance for the first quarter and full year 2015. Reported results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2014 include the results of the recently acquired Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc. ("Prestige Cruise Holdings", "Prestige") beginning on the closing of the acquisition on November 19, 2014. Due to the abbreviated period of consolidation of Prestige's results, certain metrics are presented both on an as reported basis and on a basis excluding the results of Prestige ("Norwegian Stand-alone").

Full Year 2014 Results

Video Highlights the February Cunard Royal Rendezvous"Looking back at our accomplishments over the past year, it is clear that 2014 will be remembered as one of solid growth and game-changing expansion for the company," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "Strong results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team members who, despite operating in a challenging environment, kept a keen eye on optimizing pricing and managing expenses while delivering exceptional vacation experiences to our guests. Looking ahead, the acquisition of Prestige has created the cruise industry's most dynamic and diversified operator, one that is well-positioned to realize meaningful synergies and deliver superior results. I look forward to leading this exciting organization, which mixes a deep history in the industry with an entrepreneurial spirit that is unique among cruise operators," continued Del Rio.

Norwegian reported on an as reported basis a 61.0% increase in Adjusted EPS to $2.27, on Adjusted Net Income of $480.6 million, which excludes expenses related to the Prestige acquisition and other items. On a GAAP basis, diluted earnings per share and net income were $1.62 and $338.4 million, respectively. Earnings per share for 2014 includes a $(0.03) per share impact related to an incident on board Oceania Cruises' Insignia in December 2014. On a Norwegian Stand-alone basis, Adjusted EPS increased 64.5% to $2.32. This follows a 45% increase in Adjusted EPS in 2013 and further demonstrates the Company's underlying earnings power.

A 25.5% improvement in Adjusted Net Revenue to $2.4 billion was driven by a 19.8% increase in Capacity Days coupled with a 4.8% improvement in Adjusted Net Yield. Adjusted Net Revenue excludes a deferred revenue fair value adjustment of $10.1 million related to the acquisition of Prestige. The increase in Capacity Days was primarily a result of the addition of Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, which entered the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in April 2013 and January 2014, respectively, and the addition of Capacity Days from the Prestige fleet. The improvement in Adjusted Net Yield was primarily the result of a 3.3% increase in Norwegian Stand-alone Net Yield (3.2% on a Constant Currency basis) and partially due to the addition of Prestige's brands to the fleet. Revenue for the period increased 21.6% to $3.1 billion from $2.6 billion in 2013.

On an as reported basis, Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 3.5%. Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 1.0% on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis (0.8% on a Constant Currency basis) due to investments in conjunction with the Norwegian NEXT program as well as increased marketing expenses to drive demand and stimulate close-in bookings in the fourth quarter and to carry momentum into Wave season.

Norwegian's fuel price per metric ton, excluding the impact of hedges, was $605 compared to $686 in 2013. Norwegian said that it experienced a negative impact in 2014 of $10.3 million on the Company's hedge portfolio due to recent reductions in fuel prices compared to a benefit of $4.7 million in 2013. Net of hedges, fuel price per metric ton decreased to $625 compared to $675 in 2013. Norwegian said that it's fuel consumption per Capacity Day decreased 3.1%.

Interest expense, net was $151.8 million in 2014 compared to $282.6 million in 2013. Interest expense for 2014 reflected an increase in average debt outstanding associated with newbuild financings and debt incurred in connection with the acquisition of Prestige, substantially offset by lower interest rates from the benefits of the redemption of higher rate debt and refinancing transactions. In addition, 2014 reflects $15.4 million of expenses related to financing transactions in conjunction with the acquisition of Prestige while 2013 reflects $160.6 million of expenses associated with debt prepayments.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Results
Due to the timing of the closing of the acquisition, results from the consolidation of Prestige are more evident in the fourth quarter compared to the full year. Adjusted EPS in the period was $0.36 on Adjusted Net Income of $77.6 million, and excludes debt-related and other expenses related to the Prestige acquisition. On a GAAP basis, loss per share and net loss for the quarter were $(0.12) and $(25.6) million, respectively. On a Norwegian Stand-alone basis, Adjusted EPS was $0.40. GAAP earnings per share as well as Adjusted EPS on both an as reported and Norwegian Stand-alone basis include the benefit of the completion of our global tax platform.

Adjusted Net Revenue, for the period, which excludes the aforementioned deferred revenue fair value adjustment, increased 37.5% to $618.7 million on 23.8% growth in Capacity Days from the addition of Norwegian Getaway and the Prestige fleet as well as an 11.1% improvement in Adjusted Net Yield resulting from the addition of the Prestige fleet and a 3.9% increase on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis (4.5% on a Constant Currency basis).

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 9.9% as a result of the addition of the Prestige fleet and was essentially flat on a Norwegian Stand-alone basis. Fuel price per metric ton, excluding hedges was $529 for the fourth quarter of 2014 and $656 in 2013. The impact of the change in fuel prices on the Company's hedge portfolio in these same periods was a negative impact of $10.5 million in 2014 and a benefit of $0.8 million in 2013. Fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, was $599 compared to $649 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interest expense, net increased to $56.4 million from $24.6 million primarily due to the aforementioned expenses in connection with the acquisition of Prestige and incremental interest expense related to the additional debt incurred in connection with the acquisition.

2015 Guidance and Sensitivities
In addition to the results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014, Norwegian also provided the following guidance for the first quarter and full year 2015, along with accompanying sensitivities. Guidance for Adjusted Net Yield and Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day are provided on an as reported basis as well as a Combined Company basis which compares expectations to 2014 results that include Prestige results assuming the acquisition had occurred at the beginning of 2014.

"Until recently, our booked revenue had been on par with prior year; however, the last three weeks of this Wave season has seen a significant acceleration in booking volume. Norwegian Escape is in a better booked position than her last two predecessor sister ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway, and Seven Seas Explorer has set both single day and single week booking records at the Regent brand. At year end, and as of today, Norwegian said that it has more booked revenue and the highest net yields on future sailings than ever before, including full year 2015 and 2016," said Del Rio. "As anticipated, the combined impacts of the challenging Caribbean capacity and pricing environment along with a normalized winter season for the Norwegian brand, which last year included an extended bareboat charter of Norwegian Jade for the Sochi Olympics, results in tempered expectations for the first quarter. Looking to the balance of the year, the outlook is much more encouraging with solid pricing and booking trends across all markets. While 2015 is primarily an organic year, we expect to deliver robust Adjusted EPS growth of approximately 23%," said Del Rio.

Video Highlights from the February Cunard Royal Rendezvous
On 5 February, Cunard kicked off the company's 175th Anniversary celebrations in the U.S. by paying homage to the Queen Mary when Queen Elizabeth docked in the port of Long Beach, California for the first time. Enthusiastic well-wishers turned out for the festivities which featured an emotional speech read by the Queen Mary's Commodore Everette Hoard to the gathered crowd about the history of the Queen Mary, currently celebrating her 80th year in public life. Whistle salutes between the two ships followed, and a dazzling fireworks display finished the day as the ship pulled away from her berth.

Video Highlights the February Cunard Royal RendezvousThis was the first time a Cunard ship had berthed in Long Beach since Queen Mary arrived at her retirement home in October 1967. In recent years the current Cunard fleet has saluted Queen Mary during brief visits to the harbour. Queen Mary will celebrate the 80th anniversary of her Maiden Voyage in May 2016.

"During our 175-year history, the Queen Mary has been one of our most beloved ships," said Richard Meadows, President, Cunard, North America. "This meeting of the Queens was especially memorable for our passengers, as this maiden call offered them the opportunity to disembark in Long Beach and experience the Queen Mary, an integral part of our history and tradition."

Earlier in the day, the Queen Mary debuted their new Ship Model Gallery, featuring Cunard models of Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria andQueen Elizabeth 2, along with the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary – a spectacular and historically significant ship model measuring over 20 feet in length.

In attendance for the celebratory ribbon-cutting was: Richard Meadows, President, Cunard, North America; Bernadette Greene, Deputy British Consul-General of Los Angeles; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia; John Jenkins, General Manager of the Queen Mary; and Everette Hoard, Commodore of the Queen Mary. In addition, Master of Queen Elizabeth Captain Alistair Clark was also in attendance.

Carnival Vista To Operate Year-Round From Miami; Carnival Breeze And Carnival Liberty Reposition To Galveston
PortMiami will be the year-round homeport for Carnival Cruise Line's largest ship to date, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista, when it launches six- to eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning in December 2016.

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights, introducing groundbreaking features such as SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience; the world's first IMAX® Theatre on a ship; Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first water tube slide; and RedFrog Pub, including the line's first onboard brewery.

VCarnival Vista To Operate Year-Round From MiamiCarnival will further bolster its leadership position in Galveston, repositioning Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty to Texas in 2016, joining Carnival Freedom which arrives in Galveston this Saturday. Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, respectively, in Galveston. Details on new homeports for Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, as well as year-round departures from San Juan, will be provided over the coming weeks.

With Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom, Galveston will be home to three of the line's most innovative ships offering the widest array of cruise durations and itineraries to top destinations in Mexico, Belize, Isla Roatan and The Bahamas. These three ships will carry 600,000 passengers annually from Galveston – more than any other cruise operator.

"Miami and Galveston are among our most popular points of embarkation and deploying our newest, most innovative ships to these homeports speaks volumes about our confidence in growing these markets," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "These ships not only offer our guests incredible on-board experiences but also provide our valued travel agent partners with exciting new choices to market to their clients," she added.

Carnival Vista kicks off its new schedule from PortMiami with a special four-day cruise to Grand Turk departing Nov. 29, 2016. The ship will then launch year-round six- and eight-day cruises beginning with an eight-day voyage departing Dec. 3, 2016. Six-day cruises feature Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while a mix of different eight-day itineraries visit some of the Caribbean's most sought-after destinations, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and La Romana (Dominican Republic).

The ship will also offer a combination of one-time voyages, including a five-day cruise departing Dec. 11 and seven-day voyages departing Dec. 17 and 24, 2016, that offer an exciting selection of ports including the Caribbean's newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, as well as Mahogany Bay, Grand Turk, Belize, San Juan, St. Thomas and Cozumel, depending on the itinerary.

In addition to visiting breathtaking Caribbean destinations, guests can experience all the Carnival Vista has to offer – from the colorful Havana area with tropics-inspired staterooms and suites and Family Harbor with special accommodations and a new family concierge to delicious choices like Seafood Shack and new al fresco options at the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi and Cherry On Top, featuring a mixed-to-order premium ice cream bar.

Prior to the start-up of year-round service from Miami, Carnival Vista will operate a pair of voyages round-trip from New York beginning with a three-day cruise November 4-7, 2016, followed by an 11-day voyage departing Nov. 7, 2016, and visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Maarten. Carnival Vista will then offer a spectacular 11-day cruise from New York to Miami Nov. 18-29, 2016, with calls at Grand Turk, Bonaire, Aruba and St. Maarten, an unmatched combination of great destinations not available on any other cruise from New York.

Carnival Vista is slated to operate an inaugural season of European cruises May to October 2016 before repositioning to New York, then launching year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami in November 2016.

Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will shift to Galveston in 2016, providing consumers with Texas-sized fun on departures from the Lone Star State.

Carnival Liberty will launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico from Galveston beginning March 21, 2016. Four-day "long weekend" cruises depart Thursdays and feature a stop at Cozumel, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays visiting Cozumel and Progreso. Prior to the start-up of its new Texas-based program, Carnival Liberty will offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from Galveston March 18-21, 2016.

Carnival Breeze – the line's newest ship – will offer three different week-long itineraries visiting popular ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida beginning Dec. 11, 2016. Western Caribbean voyages call at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, while a Bahamas/Florida route includes Nassau, Freeport, and Key West. Carnival Breeze will also offer a special two-day cruise from Galveston Dec. 9-11, 2016, before kicking off its new year-round seven-day schedule.

Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty bring exciting new choices to Galveston, each with an array of on-board features. Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks highlighted by a 312-foot-long slide, while Carnival Liberty offers a classic American steakhouse, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and a 14,500-square-foot spa.

In preparation for their new deployments, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will each operate a unique 12-day cruise in 2016, visiting a variety of exotic Caribbean destinations. These departures have been created especially for those guests who are looking for a longer-length cruise vacation providing more time to enjoy the ships' wide range of amenities while visiting less frequently traveled islands throughout the Caribbean.

Carnival Liberty will offer a 12-day cruise from San Juan to Galveston March 6-18, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, Aruba and Grand Cayman. Carnival Breeze will operate a 12-day cruise departing Miami Nov. 27, 2016, and arriving in Galveston Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage include St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba and Cozumel.

Princess Cruises Debuts New Love Boat-Inspired Drink
Princess Cruises, the cruise line made famous as the backdrop of the iconic Love Boat television series, debuted a new cocktail today in time to sweeten Valentine's Day celebrations on the high seas. Original Love Boat cast member Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender, created the amorous concoction, drawing inspiration from his character's signature grin-and-point move and bright red jacket. The new drink is debuting on all Princess cruise ships in time for Valentine's Day.

Princess Cruises Debuts New Love Boat-Inspired DrinkFittingly called, "The Isaac," the refreshing love potion includes white rum - a nod to Lange's favorite cruise destination, the Caribbean; pomegranate syrup – channeling the famous red jacket his character wore and also an aphrodisiac; two pineapple leaves as garnish – tribute to his character's two-finger signature point; lime juice and club soda, to add some sparkle.

Lange recently visited Crown Princess to demonstrate how to make his new creation for the ship's bartenders and a video of this lighthearted demonstration can be seen here.

"The Love Boat put Princess Cruises on the map, bringing the romance and adventure of our cruise vacations into millions of viewers' homes for the decade it was on air. So, who better to create a special cocktail celebrating love and romance at sea than Ted, who turned his character into the world's most famous bartender," said Rai Caluori, the line's executive vice president of guest experience and product development.

"Most people don't know that while I was serving up drinks on the Love Boat, I also became a licensed bartender in real life," said Lange. "If a bartender recognizes me, he or she always wants me to try their special drink. Now, I'm excited for everyone to try my special drink and I know they are going to love it. Like the song says, 'come aboard, the Isaac's waiting for you!'"

"The Isaac" is the line's latest new onboard offering furthering Princess' love quotient. Last fall, the cruise line unveiled " Chocolate Journeys," an enticing array of onboard chocolate offerings including custom-crafted desserts, chocolate and wine pairings, and exquisite chocolate bites created by one of the top names in artisan chocolate, Norman Love.

To enjoy "The Isaac" at home, here's the cocktail recipe:

Ingredients:
2 oz white rum
2 oz pomegranate syrup
½ oz fresh lime juice
splash of club soda
lime slice(s)
2 pineapple leaf spears
Glass: highball glass

Preparation: Fill highball glass with 2/3 ice or desired amount of ice. Into a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass, filling just to the top of the ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.

Carnival Freedom's Arrival In Galveston Marked With $100,000 Donation To Operation Homefront And Shipboard Concert
Carnival Cruise Line, Texas' number-one cruise operator, marked the arrival of Carnival Freedom at its new year-round homeport of Galveston on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a celebration honoring U.S. military personnel and their families.

In partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization that supports military families, service members and their families were treated to an overnight event featuring a variety of daytime activities, including an exclusive outdoor Carnival LIVE performance by country music superstar Martina McBride, along with dinner and a full evening of entertainment, all compliments of Carnival.

Carnival Freedom's Arrival In Galveston Marked With $100,000 Donation To Operation Homefront And Shipboard ConcertPrior to McBride's concert, Carnival presented a check in the amount of $100,000 to Operation Homefront.

"We're excited to kick off Carnival Freedom's year-round deployment from Galveston with a donation to an organization that touches so many lives and a special event for the brave men and women who serve our country," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Martina McBride put on a fantastic show and we were thrilled to honor these deserving military families and provide them with an incredible day and night to remember."

Carnival Freedom kicked off year-round departures from Galveston yesterday with a special six-day voyage to Mexico and will launch four- to seven-day cruises calling at ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida beginning Feb. 21. Carnival Freedom joins Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic in Galveston. Together these three ships will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas — more than any other cruise line.

McBride, a 14-time GRAMMY nominee, performed on Carnival Freedom's upper deck in the first Carnival LIVE show staged outdoors. It was her second time participating in the Carnival LIVE concert series that offers guests the best live music at sea from popular acts spanning a variety of musical genres.

"Performing for these military families was an incredible honor. And everyone really enjoyed the outdoor setting on the ship's deck," said McBride. "I hope that everyone who was there had a special Valentine's Day experience; I'm so glad I was asked to be part of it."

"We're thrilled Carnival Cruise Line honored these service members and their families by providing a truly memorable day and evening of onboard fun and exciting activities," said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer for Operation Homefront. "In that spirit, we're also grateful for Carnival Cruise Line's generous gift of $100,000, which will help military families here in Texas and throughout the country."

Carnival Freedom recently underwent a $70 million makeover that added an array of Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancements, and attendees at Saturday's event had full access to the ship's many on-board innovations, including new family entertainment programming such as Seuss at Sea and Camp Ocean featuring 200 marine-themed activities.

The renovation also included complimentary eateries such as BlueIguana Cantina, and Guy's Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, along with exciting new bar concepts BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub. Four new high-tech Playlist Productions shows were added, as well.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.29/FONT> - 0.51%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 74.26 - 0.64%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.72 - 3.20%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.40 + 0.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship that caught fire during a Christmas cruise in 1963 and sank six days later?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which cruise ship was the first to offer large picture windows for INSIDE cabins?

Answer - Voyager of the Seas has large picture windows overlooking the atrium of their ship.
courtesy of Bill Thompson, Tampa, FL


Cruise News - February 9, 2015

Viking Star Completes Successful Sea Trials
Viking Ocean Cruises today released a new online video documenting the recent successful sea trials of its first ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – set to debut in April. The trials, which took place in the Aegean Sea in mid-December, represented the vessel's first voyage in open water.

Viking Star Completes Successful Sea TrialsDuring nearly a week of intense diagnostics, maritime experts executed more than 80 different tests designed to evaluate everything from Viking Star's engine and propulsion performance to her navigation systems and cabin acoustics. Following the trials, Captain Gulleik Svalastog deemed her "one of the most agile, state-of-the-art and seaworthy ships on the water, destined to exceed the expectations of the most well-traveled guest."

"Following six months of nonstop construction since her float out, this was a major milestone for Viking Star, and we are proud to be another step closer to launch," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "Now we can focus on the finishing touches, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard in two months' time."

Currently back at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard for final outfitting and interior decorating, Viking Star will take on her first guests on April 11. She will then set sail from Istanbul, making her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in the homeland of the Vikings. On May 17 in Bergen, Norway, guests onboard will be treated to a celebration that will be seen throughout the world. One of the most important days of the year in Norway – Norwegian Constitution Day – dignitaries from around the country and thousands of Bergen residents will gather along the waterfront to welcome Viking Star to port and to share in the festivities. Bergen Mayor Trude Drevland will serve as godmother to Viking Star and will officially "name" the ship during its christening ceremony.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Culinary Experiences
When ms Koningsdam joins the Holland America Line fleet in February 2016, the ship will debut the cruise line's evolving culinary vision with new dining and eatery concepts, reimagined venues and innovative features that incorporate the essence of the line's renowned and award-winning dining experience.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Feature New Culinary ExperiencesAlthough the ship is still under construction, travelers already can come "onboard" through a new video at www.hollandamerica.com that explores the culinary experience through sweeping visuals and vibrant renderings.

"Koningsdam allows us to leverage our culinary creativity and debut new brand-exclusive venues and magnificent food concepts as well as enhance our current successful offerings," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We know that guests are going to be excited with our many creative dining choices and appealing new experiences aboard Koningsdam."

Guests will have the opportunity to embark on a culinary adventure that features cuisine from around the world in several alternative restaurants; an immersive dining experience in the reimagined Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; relaxing cafes; and an exciting, interactive culinary-themed walkway — all in addition to the main dining room. All menus are developed by award-winning Holland America Line's Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, working closely with the line's team of highly regarded international chefs.

"With Koningsdam, we are building upon our outstanding culinary foundation," said Sodamin, who recently was named Best Cruise Line Chef by Porthole Magazine. "Our guests will truly appreciate the many inventive menu choices and the visionary innovations that will be delivered with our first Pinnacle Class ship."

Take a Stroll Through the Heart of ms Koningsdam's Culinary Experience Deck 2 will showcase several of the ship's dining venues along one central promenade. In addition to the Main Dining Room, guests will find the Culinary Arts Center, alternative venues the Pinnacle Grill and Sel de Mer — the new French seafood brasserie — and interactive displays presenting icons of the food and wine world.

A central bar area overlooking the atrium enables guests to check in for their alternative-dining reservation at a hosted central podium, relax with a pre-dinner cocktail and peruse the menu before ordering prior to being escorted and seated at the restaurant.

As guests make their way along Deck 2, they'll pass the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine. On Koningsdam, the center becomes a dedicated shipboard setting with a dramatic show kitchen and individual cooking stations that will be used exclusively for Culinary Arts Center activities such as cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes by visiting celebrity chefs and the ship's own experts. Regionally inspired workshops, as well as kids' and teens' cooking classes, also will be featured. Large mirrors, viewing screens and an open kitchen make it possible for everyone to watch the food preparation and learn from the comfort of their table.

In the evening, the room transforms into a new dining concept called Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center, an immersive farm-to-table experience where the chefs prepare simple, artisanal dishes in the show kitchen and guests enjoy each course as it's freshly prepared. Every meal will emphasize fresh, thoughtfully sourced selections while incorporating select ingredients harvested from a glass-enclosed growing area just off the kitchen.

Lining the entry to the Culinary Arts Center are nine interactive displays that allow guests to explore the lives of food and wine luminaries, their culinary secrets, recipe tips, favorite dishes and more.

Indulge in the Freshest Seafood at Sel de Mer - New to Koningsdam is an intimate French seafood brasserie called Sel de Mer. Located next to the popular Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, or "salt of the sea" in French, will serve a classic selection of French seafood dishes with a contemporary twist — from fresh oysters, seafood chowder and fruits de mer to salt-crusted whole fish, scallops and bouillabaisse. Sel de Mer will re-create a setting reminiscent of the finest French brasseries where waiters are traditionally dressed and guests may choose their evening meal from a selection of fresh fish and shell fish displayed on ice in the center of the room. The Koningsdam's chefs also will go ashore whenever possible and bring back the catch of the day as a daily special for the evening's menu. Sel de Mer will be available for a modest charge.

Pacific Northwest Dishes Featured at the Pinnacle Grill - The award-winning Pinnacle Grill is located beside Sel de Mer. The popular alternative restaurant will continue to feature Pacific Northwest cuts of beef and other traditional steakhouse favorites. The centerpiece of the Pinnacle Grill is a dramatic glass-enclosed wine room situated between the two restaurants. Guests will be able to view all of the wines from both venues and chose their favorite vintage from among hundreds of selections. As on all the ships, a fee is charged for the Pinnacle Grill.

A Rich Selection of Options and New Innovations Abound - Koningsdam will feature a selection of additional dining options throughout the ship. From the casual Lido Market and new Grand Dutch Cafe to Tamarind and Canaletto, guests will be delighted with the variety of venues.

Lido Market Evolves with Themed Stations - When guests head to Lido Market on Koningsdam, they'll notice a transformation from traditional Lido dining areas into a modern marketplace, offering a curated selection of delicious options guests can grab either on-the-go or have quickly made to order. Different themed stations with walk-up service will showcase specific types of food, such as fresh-made innovative sandwiches, salads, international fare, comfort-style dishes, desserts and more. The area will have a market-like atmosphere with display shelves, daily specials highlighted on menu boards, servers in distinct uniforms and market-style signage.

Stations will feature:
- "Breadboard," serving freshly baked breads, pastries, and delicious signature sandwiches.
- "Wild Harvest," offering a bountiful selection of salads, fruits and health-conscious options.
- "Homestead," serving home-style scrambled eggs at breakfast and herb-roasted chicken and other comfort classics at lunch and dinner.
- "Distant Lands," presenting great tastes from around the globe as well as from the regions visited by the ship.
- "Sweet Spot," offering delicious desserts and treats.

New Grand Dutch Cafe Reflects the Company's Rich Heritage - Vibrant shades of Delftware's blue and white converge with the silhouettes of charming Amsterdam buildings in the whimsical Grand Dutch Cafe. Located on Deck 3 at the top of the Atrium, the new venue is a nod to Holland America Line's rich heritage and the ideal place to grab Dutch-themed snacks or beverages, with Heineken beer on tap.

Tamarind Brings the Flavors of Asia Onboard - Tamarind carries on the success found aboard ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam with an enhanced experience on Koningsdam. Featuring the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan, Tamarind will be located on the uppermost deck, providing guests with stunning panoramic views. New to Koningsdam will be an intimate sushi bar inside Tamarind with select seating for seven guests for lunch and dinner. Dining at Tamarind is available for a nominal fee.

Indulge in Italian Delicacies at Canaletto - Adjacent to the Lido dining area, every evening the festive Canaletto features an authentic Italian "sharing" dinner experience that offers a variety of dishes to enjoy and share with family and friends. The small-plate menu was conceived out of the desire to slow down the meal and create a more authentic Italian experience. Dining at Canaletto carries a minimal fee.

The Culinary Adventure Continues - Guests will find additional venues on Koningsdam, including the outdoor Dive-In at the Terrace Grill by the ship's Lido pool that features signature burgers, hot dogs and fries; and the Main Dining Room that will continue to offer two seatings and menus that highlight the dishes of Holland America Line's Culinary Council — Master Chef and Council Chairman Rudi Sodamin and renowned international chefs Mark Best, Jonnie Boer, David Burke, Elizabeth Falkner and Jacques Torres. A grand wine tower that stretches between the two decks of the restaurant will be the focal point.

Crystal Cruises Expands Use Of Shipboard Credits To Wage In Crystal Casinos
Crystal Cruises announced this week that it is expanding its onboard options by allowing travelers to convert shipboard credits in the form of non-cashable slot vouchers or special table game chips in the casinos. Effective with Crystal Symphony's March 9 Singapore to Hong Kong sailing and Crystal Serenity's March 13 Perth to Cape Town voyage, guests can convert shipboard credit in denominations of $5, $10 or $25 vouchers for slots; and $5 or $25 for table games, with no maximum limit.

Crystal Cruises Expands Use Of Shipboard Credits To Wage In Crystal Casinos"Our guests are savvy travelers who relish a multitude of thrills, including trying their hands at the tables and slots," says Crystal president, Edie Rodriguez. "The new use of shipboard credit in our casinos is another benefit to Crystal's all-inclusive experience and further enhances our onboard enrichment."

While the slot vouchers or special table game chips used from shipboard credits are not redeemable for cash themselves, winning wagers will be paid in cashable vouchers and chips. Any remaining table games chips or unused slot vouchers can be re-deposited to the guest's shipboard credit account for use toward any other applicable Crystal amenity or experience, including indulgent spa treatments or thrilling Crystal Adventures ashore. Shipboard credit vouchers in the casino are not refundable once they are used and lost.

Crystal's lavish onboard casinos on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are elegantly stylish venues offering Nevada-style gaming and glittering excitement. Thrilling games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, 3 Card Poker™, Ultimate Texas Hold'em™ and Mini-Baccarat (on request), as well as slot and video poker machines are available. Casinos are open to all guests age 18 and over, and are subject to closure in various ports.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at Sea
In 2016, Disney Cruise Line guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a brand-new, day-long celebration aboard eight special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at SeaMarking the first official appearance of the heroes and villains of Star Wars aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship, Star Wars Day at Sea combines the power of the Force, the magic of Disney and the excitement of cruising for an out-of-this-galaxy experience unlike any other.

Occurring one day during each of eight Disney Fantasy sailings, Star Wars Day at Sea will transport guests to a galaxy far, far away -- in the Western Caribbean. The event features a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, meet-and-greets with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings, and special merchandise.

Also featured will be exclusive at-sea screenings of the Star Wars films and the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

Throughout the day, Star Wars Younglings, Padawans and Jedi Masters alike will enjoy the immersive entertainment. Intergalactic highlights include:

Force-filled Fun for Everyone

• Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and other characters from across the Star Wars galaxy will be onboard for scheduled meet and greets, as well as roaming on deck and elsewhere around the ship. Guests also are encouraged to dress up in their own stellar costumes.

• A shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training Academy experience invites young Jedi hopefuls – known as "Padawans" – to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master. They can then use the Force and face off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader.

• Kids and families enjoy friendly competition during Star Wars trivia games, covering fun facts from the film and television sagas.

• For Younglings, Star Wars-themed arts and crafts, games and activities will be offered throughout the day in Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab youth clubs.

• In the evening, adults entering the night club will feel like they stepped into the Mos Eisley cantina scene. Characters and cantina music set the mood as Star Wars-themed specialty cocktails are served.

Film Screenings and Celebrities

• Guests can watch the first six Star Wars films and follow Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke and Leia along their epic journey.

• Also showing will be episodes of the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels.

• On each of the special sailings, celebrities and insiders from the Star Wars galaxy will share their experiences, meet fans and sign autographs.

Star Wars Deck Party and Fireworks

• There's intergalactic fun when the Star Wars deck party blasts off to an exciting evening filled with music, dancing and games.

• Star Wars characters converge on the deck stage for a celebration of the Star Wars saga in a show featuring special effects and guest participation.

• The deck party culminates in a spectacular display of themed pyrotechnics, lighting, sound effects, lasers and Star Wars music.

Star Wars Day at Sea will be on Disney Fantasy cruises sailing on Jan. 9, 23; Feb. 6, 20; March 5, 19; April 2 and 16, 2016. Departing from Port Canaveral, the seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary includes Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

NCL Expands North America Sales Team
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a substantial expansion to the company's North American sales team, almost doubling the number of business development managers in the field, and increasing the overall sales group by more than 40 percent. Building on Norwegian's Partners First philosophy, this investment signifies the line?s committment to having the most engaged, empowered and responsive sales team in the cruise industry in order to promote the long-term success of its valued travel partners.

Disney Cruise Line Introduces Star Wars Day at SeaWith the recent addition of exciting and innovative capacity and significantly more to come, this expansion will allow us to build closer, more effective partnerships with our travel partners across North America," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "By growing our sales team, we can reach more travel partners. Combine this increased reach with the significant investment we have made in marketing tools, booking automation, training, co-operative marketing dollars and the youngest fleet in the North American cruise industry and we believe we have a winning formula."

As a part of the expansion, new field sales representatives will be added in regions throughout the United States and Canada, including multiple positions in California, as well as an expanded presence in New York, Texas, and the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Norwegian field sales team will also add a new business development manager position and a director of sales for Canada, joining the four managers already fully dedicated to Canadian travel partners. Sales managers will also be added to the National Accounts, Key Accounts, Charters, Meetings & Incentives and Inside Sales teams based in Miami, to further boost the company's industry leading world-class sales force.

"Our aggressive and sizable investment into our sales force will not only allow us to personally reach more travel professionals, but will also allow us to deepen the relationships we have with our travel partners," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian's executive vice president of sales. "I am immensely proud of our sales team and what they've accomplished over the years. It's now time to build on that success and continue to put our Partners First."

Leading the expanded sales force are three seasoned industry professionals: Nathan Hickman, who recently joined Norwegian from Oceania Cruises as vice president of field sales and national accounts; Alex Pinelo, a long time veteran of Norwegian, who was recently appointed vice president of key accounts, and Katina Athanasiou, vice president of charters, meetings and incentives for Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

State Of The Cruise Industry: 2015 To See Robust Growth
Today, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its annual State of the Cruise Industry Report and is once again projecting strong growth for the cruise industry in 2015.

A record 23 million passengers are expected to sail this year, with 61 percent of North American CLIA-certified travel agents reporting an increase in 2015 travel bookings over this time last year. Cruise lines are enticing travelers with nearly 1,000 ports of call in new, exotic locations, especially in the fast-growing Asian market. CLIA also revealed that member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2015 for a total investment of more than $4 billion.

State Of The Cruise Industry: 2015 To See Robust GrowthThe cruise industry this year will have major economic impact globally. In 2013, the global economic output of the cruise industry was more than $117 billion; the industry supported nearly 900,000 jobs and contributed to $38 billion in wages.

"From new ports around the globe to the investment by CLIA's member cruise lines in new, innovative ships, it's an exciting time for the cruise industry and cruise passengers," said Adam M. Goldstein, CLIA Chairman and President/COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "This year will prove to be another step forward for the entire industry as our members continue to strive to make cruising the best overall vacation experience."

Using several research studies, CLIA identified seven 2015 cruise industry outlooks:

  1. Travelers Will Continue to Set Sail – Cruise travelers intend to continue to set sail and are highly satisfied with prior cruise experiences. In fact, 62 percent are return cruisers and 69 percent ranked cruising as a better value than a land-based vacation. Overall, CLIA member ocean passenger volume is projected to increase to 23 million in 2015, a four-percent increase over 2014 estimates of 22.1 million.
  2. Size Doesn't Matter – Five years ago, the largest cruise ship in the world was introduced with a 6,300-passenger capacity. With 22 new ocean, river and specialty cruise ships scheduled for debut this year, the focus is less on size and more on unique design and amenities.
  3. Specialty Cruises Continue to Thrive – CLIA's specialty segments, which includes sophisticated ships, luxury yachts, elegant ocean liners and the newest river cruises, continue to experience double digit passenger growth. In fact, specialty cruises grew by 21 percent annually from 2009 to 2014 estimates.
  4. Caribbean Continues to Be Queen – The Caribbean remains queen for the cruise industry with more than a third of the global deployment capacity market share in 2015. At the same time, cruise travelers are expanding horizons. The Mediterranean continues to grow as a destination, as well as other regions including Asia and Australia. In 2015, 52 ships will provide 1,065 Asian cruises with capacity for 2.17 million passengers.
  5. Oh, the New Places We Will Go – The cruise industry is seeing an increase in passengers looking for global experiences. As a result, cruising has made the world more accessible than ever. CLIA's member cruise lines offer nearly 1,000 ports around the globe, including many areas that fall within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  6. Travel Agents Are Key to Cruise Travel – While the Internet and mobile devices have overtaken how consumers make purchases, travel agents continue to be the most popular and best way to book a cruise. In fact, seven out of ten cruise travelers (70 percent) use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.
  7. Passengers Are at the Helm – When it comes to travel, consumers are in control more than ever before. The cruise industry is excited, motivated and responding with key innovations that are meeting the needs of today's passengers, such as bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and phone connectivity, multigenerational appeal, themed cruises and "foodcations".

The Travel Agent Pulse Survey was conducted among 482 North American CLIA-certified travel agents via an online survey between November 7-23, 2014. The 2014 North American Cruise Market Profile Survey was conducted in partnership with market research firm TNS and cruise industry consultancy Bob Sharak & Associates. Drawn from a panel of more than 1 million households, an online survey was conducted between August 12-26, 2014, which collected cruise and travel opinion data among 1,600 U.S. and Canadian residents. This report presents data on travelers who are 25 or older with an annual household income of more than $40,000.

Financial Highlights
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.30 per common share payable on March 4, 2015, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 18, 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 42.65 - 1.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 73.75 - 1.32%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 - 2.14%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.93 - 0.92%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the first to offer large picture windows for INSIDE cabins?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - If you were departing on a transatlantic crossing from Pier 90 in New York City in the early 1950's, what shipping company would you most likely have been traveling on?

Answer - Voyager of the Seas has large picture windows overlooking the atrium of their ship.
courtesy of Shiela K.


Cruise News - February 2, 2015

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong 2014 Results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) last week reported 2014 results and provided increased guidance for 2015. Following its Double-Double trajectory, Royal Caribbean said that earnings for 2014 were up more than 40% over 2013 and are expected to be up a further 40% in 2015.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong 2014 Results"It's been a good year and we are looking forward to another good one in 2015," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our brands are performing at their strongest levels ever and our Double-Double program is solidly on track."

FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

Adjusted Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $70 million, or $0.32 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $49.9 million, or $0.23 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013. US GAAP Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $109.8 million, or $0.49 per share. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel were up 2.3%, better than the midpoint of guidance. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 2.7% versus guidance of 3.5%, driven by a weaker than anticipated Caribbean pricing environment.

The strengthening of the US Dollar, net of fuel, reduced EPS by $0.07. Even though the worldwide price of crude oil dropped precipitously during the quarter, there is a lag between sharp movements in crude prices and the cost of fuel at-the-pump and bunker inventory on board our ships. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the fourth quarter was $660 per metric ton and consumption was 347,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2014 RESULTS

Adjusted Net Income for the full year 2014 was $755.7 million, or $3.39 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $539.2 million, or $2.44 per share, for the full year 2013. This represents a 40% year-over-year increase in Adjusted Earnings. US GAAP Net Income for the full year 2014 was $764.1 million, or $3.43 per share. During the fourth quarter, tax reform in Spain eliminated limitations on the carry forward period for previously recognized net operating losses. This resulted in a net income benefit of $33.5 million, or $0.15 per share. This benefit had not been anticipated in the company's guidance and, in accordance with the company's past approach to such items, was excluded from Adjusted EPS.

Net Yields for the full year 2014 increased 2.4% on a Constant-Currency basis. Onboard revenue yields were up 3.8%.

NCC excluding fuel were down 0.6% on a Constant-Currency basis, versus guidance of flat to slightly down. The average bunker price net of hedging for full year 2014 was $693 per metric ton and consumption was 1,367,000 metric tons.

Towards the end of 2014, the US Dollar strengthened while the price of fuel in world markets declined, but at a more dramatic rate. While the impact of currency is immediate, there is a lag before a change in the price of fuel flows through to the business. There continues to be a relationship between foreign exchange and fuel, but the offsets are not exact (especially in the short term) and fluctuations a near certainty. For 2014, the net impact of currency and fuel was a negative $0.07 to earnings relative to the latest guidance.

At the beginning of 2014, the company forecasted Adjusted Earnings of $3.20 to $3.40 per share. In the first and second quarter, foreign exchange moved in the company's favor and the company increased the midpoint of its guidance to $3.45, largely to reflect that improvement. Later in the year, foreign exchange reversed direction, reversing the earlier benefit. Royal Caribbean said that the final Adjusted EPS of $3.39 was at the top end of original guidance. Interestingly, foreign exchange movements netted to approximately zero by year-end.

FULL YEAR 2015

Bookings over the past three months have been higher than prior year levels, and the company is experiencing a good, but typical WAVE season. Load factors and average per diems are both ahead of same time last year. In fact, Royal Caribbean said that it's booked position at the end of 2014 was the best such position in the company's history. The company continues to experience highly competitive Caribbean pricing through the first quarter, but pricing is expected to be up low single digits for the remainder of 2015. The company expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 2.5% to 4.5% on a Constant-Currency basis and in the range of down 0.5% to up 1.5% on an As-Reported basis for the full year.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up 1% or better on a Constant-Currency basis and down 1.5% to 0.5% on an As-Reported basis.

"On the revenue front, although the first quarter remains a challenge, we are pleased with the way our summer season in the Caribbean, Europe, China and Alaska is coming together," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "On the expense side, our on-going focus on driving efficiencies throughout the business provides us with the ability to keep our costs firmly in line with our Double-Double expectations while strategically investing in technology enhancements and growing markets, like China."

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company currently estimates 2015 Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $4.65 to $4.85 per share. The company noted that since October, the fall in the price of oil has had a positive impact of $0.59 per share and the strengthening of the US Dollar has had a negative impact of $0.54 per share.

FIRST QUARTER 2015

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be down 1.5% to 2.0% in the first quarter of 2015 (down approximately 5% As-Reported). This includes the previously announced shift of holiday sailings from the first quarter of each year to the fourth quarter. While this shift has no impact on the year as a whole, it accounts for most of the decline in first quarter yields. In addition, the overhang of the highly promotional Caribbean environment in 2014 continues through the first quarter of 2015, also impacting yields. Yields in the second, third and fourth quarters are expected to be higher, and will be up in the mid-single digits.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up 2.0% to 3.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (flat to up 1% As-Reported). Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, the company expects first quarter Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $0.10 to $0.15 per share

Carnival Vista Inaugural Itineraries Announced
Following its official handover ceremony from the Fincantieri shipyard, Carnival Vista will embark on its inaugural cruise from Europe – a 13-day voyage departing Trieste, Italy, May 1 and arriving Barcelona on May 14, 2016.

Carnival Vista Inaugural Itineraries AnnouncedThe voyage is the first of 18 European departures from Barcelona and Athens through October 21, 2016, that will feature a number of new ports for Carnival, including Crete (Heraklion), and Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; and Gibraltar.

Carnival Vista’s European sailings include:

• May 1 (Trieste to Barcelona) – 13-day cruise calling at Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir (Ephesus), Crete (Heraklion), Valletta, Palermo, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), and Marseilles (Provence)

• May 14, June 11, July 9, September 3 and October 1 (Barcelona to Athens) – 10-day voyage visiting Marseilles (Provence), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Crete (Heraklion), Rhodes, Izmir (Ephesus), and Athens (overnight)

• May 24, June 21, July 19, September 13 and October 11 (Athens to Barcelona) – 10-day sailing featuring Izmir (Ephesus), Rhodes, Valletta, Messina, Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), and Marseilles (Provence)

• June 3, September 23 (round-trip Barcelona) – Eight-day departure with stops at Palermo, Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Marseilles (Provence), and Palma de Mallorca

• July 1, August 18 and 26 (round-trip Barcelona) – Eight-day voyage calling at Messina, Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Marseilles (Provence), and Palma de Mallorca

• July 29 (round-trip Barcelona) – Eight-day voyage featuring Cagliari, Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Marseilles (Provence) and Palma de Mallorca

• August 6 (round-trip Barcelona) – 12-day cruise visiting Marseilles (Provence), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Dubrovnik, Corfu, Messina, and Cagliari

• October 21 (Barcelona to New York) - Carnival Vista’s inaugural European season will conclude with a 13-day transatlantic crossing departing Barcelona October 21 and arriving New York November 3, 2016, calling at Gibraltar, Ponta Delgada, and Bermuda (overnight call), followed by a series of voyages from the Big Apple.

Carnival Vista’s European cruises are currently available for reservations. Additional information on the New York departures will be available next month.

Royal Caribbean Begins Construction of Fourth Oasis Class Ship
Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the third Oasis-class ship will soon have a new sister to welcome to the Oasis class family. Today marked the steel cutting for a fourth Oasis ship, scheduled to be delivered in 2018. The steel cutting, marking the official start of construction, took place at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, where the third Oasis-class ship also is being built.

Its centerpiece will be the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary - a spectacular and historically significant model measuring over 20 feet in length and exact in every detail,The Oasis class took the cruise industry by storm with the introduction of Oasis of the Seas in 2009, featuring a revolutionary design with a split superstructure and the cruise line’s neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas. At 225,282 GRT and spanning 16 decks with 2,700 staterooms, the Oasis-class ships also introduced extraordinary “firsts” at sea such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide bar, the AquaTheater high-diving performance venue, and the Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants.

The Oasis class also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H2O Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas sail alternating seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries every Saturday and Sunday, respectively from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., visiting exciting warm-weather getaways in the Caribbean. During the 2015 Europe season, Allure of the Seas will be homeported at Barcelona, Spain, for the first full Oasis-class Europe season.

Details of the two Oasis-class ships currently under construction will be revealed in the coming months.

Long Beach Harbor to Host Royal Visitor
The Queen Mary will receive her sea-going "niece" February 5, 2015. This will mark the first time a modern Cunard liner will dock and disembark passengers in the Long Beach harbor. Queen Elizabeth is today one of the world's most advanced passenger vessels and is currently on a global cruise. The original Queen Elizabeth was the sister-ship to Queen Mary and together made over 2,000 trans-Atlantic voyages when in active service for Cunard.

Its centerpiece will be the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary - a spectacular and historically significant model measuring over 20 feet in length and exact in every detail,"Queen Elizabeth will berth adjacent to the Queen Mary, and her arrival will begin a day-long series of events and activities to celebrate the unprecedented meeting of ships. Admission to the Queen Mary will be complimentary that day, and there will be other incentives for our public guests to come early and stay late. Queen Elizabeth is expected to dock at 07:00 AM (approx.). She will depart the same day - at sunset," said Queen Mary General Manager, John Jenkins.

Prior visits by Cunard vessels to Long Beach have been restricted to floating salutes where the modern ships hovered in place while honoring their ancestor. The February 5 visit will see Queen Elizabeth dock nearby the Queen Mary - a first for Long Beach and Cunard...and the sea-going royal relatives.

Enhancing the Queen Elizabeth's visit, and in recognition of the Queen Mary's 80 years of public life, a new Ship Model Gallery will be dedicated on the Queen Mary at 11:00 AM. Located on the Promenade Deck, the model gallery will house many important ship models and is the first phase of the Queen Mary's announced plans to create a world-class maritime museum and learning center aboard the ship.

"Having Queen Elizabeth on-hand for the Gallery dedication makes the day even more special," said Jenkins.

Included in the Gallery will be priceless large models of some of the world's greatest ships; Titanic, Lusitania, Britannia, Oregon, Normandie along with Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth 2, Queen Mary 2...and the spectacular Queen Mary. "The gallery will debut these impressive ship models - with others on the way. Its centerpiece will be the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary - a spectacular and historically significant model measuring over 20 feet in length and exact in every detail," Jenkins added.

HAL Features Robust Canada and New England Cruise Options for Summer and Fall 2015
With 39 cruises throughout Canada and New England in 2015, Holland America Line offers an extensive array of cruises in the region that range from seven to 15 days. The voyages carry guests in elegant comfort aboard ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam or ms Veendam.

Whether exploring the area during the summer when the skies shine blue or in the fall when the leaves put on an incredible display of jewel-toned hues, Canada and New England is perfect for cruising in either season.

HAL Features Robust Canada and New England Cruise Options for Summer and Fall 2015“We offer an incredible number of Canada and New England cruises because this in-demand region is rich in culture, history and stunning scenery — making it an ideal cruise destination that’s close to home,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “There’s something for everyone on these itineraries, whether it’s exploring nature, trying local cuisine, antique shopping or visiting historical locales.”

Scheduled May through October, the cruises depart from Boston, Mass.; Montréal and Québec City, Quebec, Canada; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and New York City, N.Y., and visit some of the region’s most iconic destinations.

Idyllic Summer Climate and Seven-day Cruise Options Perfect for Family Vacation - Maasdam begins the season with a 15-day northbound cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montréal departing May 1, 2015, that includes scenic cruising in the Saguenay Fjord.

From May 16 through the Oct. 10 departure, Maasdam offers 22 seven-day sailings between Montréal and Boston, featuring scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the St. Lawrence River.

Maasdam concludes the season with a 13-day coastal sailing departing Oct. 17 from Montréal to Fort Lauderdale. Guests can take in the beautiful landscape at peak fall foliage time on scenic cruising along the St. Lawrence River, Saguenay Fjord and Gaspé Bay. Guests also can choose a 10-day option to sail from Montréal to New York.

Bermuda Collectors’ Voyages and between Quebec and Boston - Veendam kicks off its Canada and New England season with a 14-day Bermuda and Canada/New England Collectors’ Voyage departing Boston May 9, 2015. Highlights include three full nights at Hamilton, Bermuda, and an overnight at Quebec City. This itinerary also is offered in June and July, as well as the reverse route from Quebec City to Boston in May and June.

From May 16 through the Oct. 10 departure, Veendam sails 12 seven-day cruises between Québec City and Boston. These sailings include scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and an overnight at Québec City.

For seven-day Maasdam and Veendam itineraries, back-to-back sailings on the same ship can be combined for an extended 14-day roundtrip Collectors’ Voyage, allowing extra time ashore to get to know each port better with repeating calls.

Fall Foliage Cruises Bring Region to Life with Nature’s Colors - In September and October, during the height of the 2015 fall foliage season, Eurodam will sail a 10-day cruise between New York and Québec City, and a 14-day cruise from Québec City to Fort Lauderdale. Both itineraries include scenic cruising in Saguenay Fjord and an overnight at Quebec City.

Veendam kicks off Sept. with a 7-day Historic Coasts roundtrip Boston cruise departing Aug. 29. Ports feature Portland, Maine, Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. Maasdam and Veendam also continue with seven-day fall foliage cruise options into October. O

n Location Provides Engagement with Cruise Destinations - On each Canada and New England cruise, Holland America Line’s “On Location” enrichment activities brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life both onboard and ashore to deepen guests’ appreciation of the region.

Guests on a Canada and New England cruise might enjoy a New England clam bake or a “Fiddlin’ Flapjack” breakfast, complete with authentic Canadian maple syrup and featuring local Cape Breton Celtic fiddlers. Other activities include regional beer and wine tastings, a Canadian Bar mixology class, cultural cooking demonstrations and a special historical and musical performance featuring the Halifax Citadel Highlander & Bagpiper.

Carnival Invokes President Kennedy in First-Ever Super Bowl TV Commercial
Carnival Corporation aired its first-ever Super Bowl TV commercial entitled "Come Back to the Sea" – a 60-second spot combining stunning cinematic images of the ocean and stirring words from President John F. Kennedy to create an emotional storyline about people's universal connection with the sea.

"We are tied to the ocean... and when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it ... we are going back from whence we came," President Kennedy says in his distinctive voice heard by viewers as they see illuminating scenes of the ocean's natural beauty. In the commercial's full voice-over, representing a short clip from his speech kicking off the 1962 America's Cup, the President's remarks describe the emotional and innate connection that people have with the sea.

Carnival Invokes President Kennedy in First-Ever Super Bowl TV CommercialThe "Come Back to the Sea" spot was produced to create a personal connection with consumers, especially those who have never taken a cruise vacation, a key target audience for Carnival Corporation's 2015 marketing initiative designed to increase interest in and demand for cruising. The "Come Back to the Sea" ad is now available at www.ComeBackToTheSea.com and on YouTube's AdBlitz channel, along with the other spots from tonight's game, for consumer voting.

"We worked with true passion to bring this creative concept to life with reverence and elegance to strike a chord with consumers, and we are proud to share it on the world's biggest stage," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "Our existing guests already know that each time they go back to the sea on one of our ships, it is a unique experience that helps them connect in a special way with themselves, family, friends and the world. We wanted to convey that same feeling with people who have never cruised by showing the magnificence of the sea and its special place in our lives, and why cruising is a great way to relax, reconnect and recharge."

Donald added: "Our overall goal is to successfully share that cruising is not what some people think it is, and to debunk untrue common myths that keep people from taking a cruise. We want to start among those who haven't cruised a conversation about why cruising is such a great vacation, at an exceptional value, and why cruising is an option to consider when planning a vacation. And, since we have nine distinctive brands that sail 100 ships to more than 700 ports around the world, we have a cruise that's right for just about everybody."

To capture the essence of cruising and showcase the experience of going back to the sea, Hollywood director Wally Pfister and the BBDO-Atlanta creative team shot for nine days in Barcelona, Spain, including five days onboard the Regal Princess ship, the newest ship in the company's Princess Cruises line. Gathering breath-taking visuals of the open sea and unique moments in time from cruise vacations, the team produced a story that translates the unique and intangible experience of re-connecting with the sea into a 60-second commercial. Drawing on a wealth of storytelling expertise, Pfister and the team created a film-quality, documentary-style final spot with powerful visuals to help evoke an emotional response from viewers.

"When creating a commercial of this kind, we knew we had a big task ahead of us because we aren't just asking consumers to purchase a product or widget, but instead, we are hoping to move them to feel a certain way about cruising," said Pfister, the Hollywood cinematographer known for his work on Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy and director of the Carnival Corporation ad. "With this particular spot, we wanted to transcend the so-called typical cruise commercial and create something that felt as visually powerful as the weight of the words being delivered by our former President. We worked with great care to bring these beautiful images together with his speech about the sea in a meaningful and respectful way, and we hope the quality and emotions of the piece really resonate with viewers."

This final commercial was one of four fully produced ads created as part of the company's recently launched "World's Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge" that gave consumers across North America the chance to provide Carnival Corporation with input on its new advertising creative. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, this interactive crowdsourcing contest let consumers "join the company's marketing team" and vote for their favorite creative concept with a chance to win a grand prize of a yearly cruise for life. More than 100,000 consumers voted on the ads and participated in the contest. The winner of the cruise a year for life prize will be announced next week.

The "Come Back to the Sea" spot featured during the Super Bowl is part of Carnival Corporation's multi-brand marketing initiative that for the first time incorporates all nine of its global brands. Three other advertisements from the Carnival's marketing initiative, "Getaway," "Cruise Virgin" and "Message in a Bottle," are available on WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com, on the Carnival Corporation YouTube page and on the World's Leading Cruise Lines YouTube page.

Together, these ads have totaled nearly four million views on YouTube. The ads will be used on multiple platforms throughout the year including television, digital and social to drive increased awareness, consideration and demand for cruising.

MSC Cruises Enhances Wedding Program In The Caribbean
Couples sailing aboard the ultramodern MSC Divina, one of MSC Cruises' largest and most elegant ships, can now legally say "I Do," with the cruise line's enhanced wedding offerings.

MSC Cruises Enhances Wedding Program In The CaribbeanMSC Cruises is offering couples the option of getting married shipboard or shoreside in several Caribbean destinations, including: Bridgetown, Barbados; Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Falmouth, Jamaica; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Nassau, Bahamas; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Couples can also get married on embarkation day in Miami.

"As destination and cruise weddings continue to gain popularity, we are thrilled that we can now offer guests the opportunity to legally get married shipboard or shoreside," said Bonnie Levengood, senior vice president of marketing for MSC Cruises USA. "MSC Divina is a gorgeous ship and is an ideal wedding location for a couple looking to hold a unique event which combines celebration, fun, and relaxation into one special package at an extraordinary value."

Partnering with The Wedding Experience, MSC Cruises' event planners will work with couples to handle all the details of planning the wedding or vow renewal, including providing a wedding consultant leading up to the wedding and a ceremony coordinator the day of.

Ceremonies and receptions on MSC Divina are completely customizable with options for everything from photography and videography packages, music, fresh flowers, food and beverage packages, specialty items such as favors and aisle runners, transportation for shoreside events, and personalized stationary for announcements and invitations.

As an extra benefit, couples booking groups of at least 13 staterooms will receive a complimentary balcony stateroom. Those booking larger groups will receive a complimentary suite (30+ rooms in group) or Yacht Club (50+ rooms in group) stateroom.

The ship also offers a wide-variety of locations for romantic photo opportunities with the most popular locations including a traditional photo along one of the Swarovski crystal staircases and a trendy photo by The Garden infinity pool overlooking the ship's wake.

MSC Divina is the first ship in MSC Cruises' fleet to offer legal weddings. Ceremonies onboard can accommodate up to 150 non-sailing guests. Basic packages — which include items such as a pre-sailing Event Manager, local non-denominational Wedding Officiate, Wedding Day Ceremony Coordinator, bridal bouquet and boutonniere, cake for two, bottle of sparkling champagne or wine, and 1-hour of photography coverage — start at $1,600 for a shipboard event and $2,200 for a shoreside event, depending on the location of the wedding.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.51 - 6.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 74.74 - 11.81%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 - 2.43%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.33 - 5.91%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the first to offer large picture windows for INSIDE cabins?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - We all know that Titanic's sister ship Olympic was broken up in 1937. What is amazing is that part of Olympic survived and still sails the seas today. What part of Olympic survived and where is it today?

Answer - Parts of the RMS Olympic are on display in the Southampton Maritime Museum, the Titanic Museum (Branson, MO) and in the White Swan Hotel in the UK. The wood panels however grace the walls of the Olympic Restaurant on Celebrity's Millennium cruise ship.
courtesy of Florida Rich


Cruise News - January 26, 2015

HAL's ms Veendam Rescues Pilot Who Ditched His Aircraft Off Hawaii
On Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, at 5:21 p.m. local time while en route to Lahaina, Hawaii, Holland America Line's ms Veendam answered a request for assistance from the United States Coast Guard to rescue a pilot who had ditched his single-engine Cirrus SR-22 after he experienced a mechanical issue with the fuel system. The pilot was located approximately 225 nautical miles off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

HAL's ms Veendam Rescues Pilot Who Ditched His Aircraft Off HawaiiIn partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Veendam was able to successfully rescue the pilot, who deployed the aircraft's airframe parachute system and safely exited the plane into a life raft. Holland America Line crewmembers brought him aboard Veendam and provided him food and accommodations. The pilot, who was in good condition, disembarked today, Jan. 26, at Lahaina.

"Congratulations to the team on ms Veendam for coming to the aid of the pilot and for working together with the Coast Guard to conduct this successful rescue operation," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "January has been an eventful month for our ships with several rescues around the world, and we are honored to be able to assist in any distress situation when needed."

Veendam currently is in the middle of an 18-day Circle Hawaii cruise roundtrip from San Diego, Calif., which departed Jan. 20.

This is the third rescue at sea by a Holland America Line ship in 2015. On Jan. 3, ms Zuiderdam rescued eight crewmembers from a sinking vessel in the Caribbean, and Jan. 4 ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven stranded crewmembers at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica.

Carnival Vista Will Feature High-Altitude Sky Ride And World's First IMAX Theatre At Sea
There's big fun and spectacular views on the horizon, as Carnival Cruise Line today announced the details of its most innovative ship ever, Carnival Vista, debuting in spring 2016. Designed to connect guests to the ocean with sweeping views and plenty to do both outdoors and in, Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights and introduce an exciting array of groundbreaking new features including: SkyRide, a breakthrough suspended open-air cycling experience; the world's first IMAX® Theatre on a ship; an expanded water park featuring the colorful Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first raft-riding water tube slide; Seafood Shack, a delectable New England-inspired eatery; RedFrog Pub, including the line's first onboard brewery, and other enhanced dining, bar and entertainment options; as well as new scenic and family-friendly accommodation types. The ship's inaugural Mediterranean itineraries will mark the line's return to Europe.

Carnival Vista Will Feature High-Altitude Sky Ride And World's First IMAX Theatre At SeaHigh-Powered Outdoor Fun - With SkyRide, the cruise industry's first pedal-powered open-air aerial attraction, Carnival is creating some of the best and highest outdoor vistas ever offered on a cruise ship. Adventurous riders can climb aboard hanging recumbent-like bikes to cycle their way around the 800-foot suspended track with panoramic views from 150 feet above the sea. Nearby will be SkyCourse, an exhilarating suspended ropes course. Both are part of the expanded outdoor activity park that also includes a new indoor sports hangout, The Clubhouse at SportSquare¸ featuring mini-bowling, ping-pong, arcade basketball, sports video gaming and more.

In the largest WaterWorks water park in the fleet, kids and kids at heart will find a thrilling array of splash-tastic fun including Kaleid-O-Slide, the line's first-ever water tube attraction. Riders will hop on inflatable one or two-person rafts taking them on a fun-filled 455-foot adventure of exhilarating twists and turns with stunning kaleidoscopic visual effects.

Big-Time Entertainment at the Multiplex - Carnival Vista's views are truly spectacular inside, too. Carnival is partnering with entertainment innovator IMAX® (NYSE: IMAX) to bring the world's most immersive cinematic experience to sea with the first-ever IMAX® Theatre on a ship. Guests will take in the latest Hollywood blockbusters, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content on a screen that's three decks high. Next door at the Thrill Theater, moviegoers can enjoy a multi-dimensional special effects experience. Both are part of the Carnival Multiplex, a first at sea for film fans, complete with concession stand offering popcorn and movie snacks. The Warehouse, featuring a variety of video and arcade games, is located adjacent to the Carnival Multiplex.

Fresh New Dining & Bar Options - Featured on Carnival Vista and a first for the fleet will be the New England-inspired Seafood Shack, a casual indoor/outdoor dining venue near the Lido Marketplace eateries. This seafood-lovers' paradise will feature a menu full of delicious, fresh favorites available for purchase, including lobster rolls, steamed lobster, fried shrimp, crab cakes, fried clams and more.

At the RedFrog Pub, Carnival will brew up great beer for good times in its first ever brewery. During each sailing two giant copper-topped glass kettles will create tasty ales and lagers that can be enjoyed on tap from the bar and through unique tabletop taps that allow guests to pour their own beer. The full bar will also offer an array of Caribbean-inspired cocktails, beers and rums. Indoor/outdoor seating, live music and brewing tours and tastings will also be offered in this fun venue.

Carnival is expanding the line's popular Latin-infused Havana experience inside and out on Carnival Vista. Celebrating Cuba's gloried past, Havana Bar serves traditional cocktails and bites during the day and transforms into a sizzling Latin dance club at night. The fun also extends outdoors with a new Havana Pool located aft and offering stunning views of the ocean, whirlpools and relaxation area, complete with colorful umbrellas, faux palm trees, thatched patio huts and comfy seating, perfect for soaking up the sun while enjoying a refreshing mojito.

Carnival Vista will offer a wide variety of well-appointed, beautifully designed staterooms and suites including two new accommodation classes. Tropics-inspired Havana Cabanas feature accommodations with private outdoor patios – complete with lounge chairs and hammock – that face the expanded Lanai ocean-air outdoor promenade and offer magnificent sea views in addition to easy access to the Havana Bar and Pool.

Located within a new dedicated family zone on Deck 2, the new Family Harbor accommodations offer an array of deluxe ocean-view, balcony and interior staterooms that accommodate up to five family members. Parents and kids will have even more room to relax at the new, exclusive Family Harbor Lounge, a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hang out with large-screen TVs, games and complimentary breakfast and snacks. A special family concierge desk will be available here to assist families in making this their best vacation ever.

"Carnival Vista celebrates the connection to the oceans on which we sail and gives our guests amazing seascapes around every corner and more ways to enjoy every moment of sun and fun during their cruise vacation," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "From our exhilarating new high-altitude SkyRide to the Kaleid-O-Slide water tube slide to our IMAX anchored Carnival Multiplex to the multitude of dining and bar options, we are thrilled to share the details about our largest and most innovative ship with our guests while providing our valued travel agent partners with an exciting new option to offer to their clients."

Thanks to an expanded Lanai on Deck 5 guests can stroll or sit and enjoy a beverage at one of the many dining and bar venues that will now feature outdoor areas.

The line will offer its first-ever outdoor seating options at specialty eateries including Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse, and Japanese-style Bonsai Sushi restaurant where diners will enjoy sea views as delicious as their meals. Cherry on Top will be the sweetest spot at sea, with a new premium mixed-to-order custom ice cream creation bar, outdoor seating and more than 80 bulk candy options.

The intimate Library Bar will also offer guests indoor/outdoor options, in addition to the hoppin' RedFrog Pub and stylish Havana Bar.

Vacationers will find Fun Ship 2.0 favorite poolside eateries and bars including Guy's Burger Joint, award-winning burgers and hand-cut fries created by chef and author Guy Fieri, and BlueIguana Cantina, featuring freshly made tacos and burritos. Poolside bars BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar will also provide innovative cocktail options, as will the mixologists at the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar.

The ship's main dining rooms, Reflections and Horizons, offer a tantalizing array of delicious menu items for guests who want to enjoy a full-service breakfast, lunch or dinner. The striking modern interiors created by award-winning designer BigTime Design Studios offer decidedly different decor than previous Carnival ships. The Horizons dining room will also feature a unique bar that's the perfect spot for meeting friends and enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail or an after-meal aperitif.

The beautiful Vista Atrium will set a festive mood with its giant, multi-deck-high centerpiece that will delight guests with its LED screens and changing visuals to create the right atmosphere. It's the perfect place to welcome guests boarding the ship, meet friends at the bar or enjoy live entertainment and dancing.

For those looking to unwind and relax, Carnival Vista has a lot to ahhh about. The luxurious two-level Cloud 9 Spa will feature an array of chill-worthy amenities, including a thalassotherapy pool, four steam chambers, the line's first infrared sauna and hamam, and special "experience showers" that provide a soothing fragrance element, along with a high-tech indoor cycling studio. Guests can get away from it all at the adults-only Serenity retreat, where there's breathtaking views, tranquility and even more lounging options to relax including the line's first outdoor massage huts.

As the family cruise leader, carrying more than 700,000 children on board each year, the company designed Carnival Vista with even more fun for families day and night.

The indoor/outdoor Camp Ocean for children under age 12 is a dedicated undersea-themed play space with more than 200 fun and educational ocean-inspired activities.

Carnival Vista will be the second ship in the fleet to feature Dr. Seuss Bookville, a special reading and play space inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Here kids and their families can read beloved Dr. Seuss books, make arts and crafts and stretch their imagination with toys and games. Also part of the line's Seuss at Sea program, Carnival Vista guests can enjoy Green Eggs and Ham with The Cat in the Hat and Friends character breakfast, the Seuss-a-palooza Story Time and Parade and more. Carnival Vista will also introduce four new games at the family-centric HASBRO the Game Show, as well as special family-friendly comedy performances at Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez.

The largest ship in the fleet, Carnival Vista will measure 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and have a guest capacity of 3,936 (based on two per cabin). The new vessel will debut May 1, 2016, with a 13-day cruise departing from Trieste, Italy -- the first European voyage for Carnival in three years. A variety of spectacular Mediterranean itineraries will be offered with port calls throughout Italy, France, Spain, Croatia and Turkey, as well as several new destinations for Carnival such as Crete (Heraklion), and Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; and Gibraltar. On October 21, 2016, Carnival Vista will embark on a special 13-day transatlantic crossing and arrive in New York November 3, 2016, then operate a series of voyages from the Big Apple.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive Officer
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq:NCLH) ("Norwegian" or "the Company"), announced that its Board of Directors has named Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Del Rio succeeds Kevin Sheehan, who has decided to leave the Company.

Norwegian Cruise Line Appoints Frank Del Rio as President and Chief Executive OfficerMr. Del Rio is the Chief Executive Officer of Prestige Cruises International, Inc. ("Prestige"), which was acquired by Norwegian in November 2014. Mr. Del Rio, a co-founder of Oceania Cruises, Inc., a subsidiary of Prestige, has more than 20 years of experience in the cruise industry.

"Frank Del Rio has established himself as a leader and innovator in our industry," said Steve Martinez, member of Norwegian's Board of Directors. "Norwegian is poised for continued growth and we are delighted to have Frank lead our team during the next phase of the company's evolution. We also thank Kevin Sheehan for his service to the company. Kevin has built Norwegian into the highly successful company it is today - a company that has reported 25 consecutive quarters of growth in trailing twelve month Adjusted EBITDA coupled with consistent margin improvement. Most recently, Kevin was integral to the Prestige acquisition, assembling a diversified portfolio of brands that spans all market segments in the cruise industry, which we believe puts the company in a strong position for the future."

"It has been a privilege to lead Norwegian over the last seven years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and take comfort in the knowledge that I am leaving the company much healthier and stronger than when I joined. With the company set for success, I hand the baton off to Frank, a proven leader in the cruise industry," said Mr. Sheehan.

"I am excited to begin this new chapter in my long career in the cruise industry," said Mr. Del Rio. "I am blessed with a great team at Norwegian, and I am confident that together we can help our company continue to realize great things."

Frank Del Rio has served as Chief Executive Officer of Prestige or its predecessor since April 2007. Prestige, a subsidiary of Norwegian, is a global cruise line operator in the upscale cruise segment. Prestige operates two upscale cruise brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which operate in over 300 ports around the globe. Mr. Del Rio holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Florida and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive license). Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Memo of Understanding for Two Potential Joint Ventures to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming Solution
Carnival Corporation is using the award-winning iGaming Mobile Platform from Scientific Games to offer its adult guests the ability to wager on their mobile devices throughout its ships while in international waters.

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming SolutionThe game offerings available on Carnival's Mobile Casino include a host of best-in-class poker, slot, and table-game content from Scientific Games' Bally product line, Las Vegas From Home, Play'n GO and PokerTek.

"We're excited to partner with Scientific Games and our content providers to offer our guests a new and thrilling entertainment option that will enhance their experience aboard our ships," said Marty Goldman, senior vice president of global casino operations for Carnival Corporation. "Scientific Games is a leader in the mobile gaming space and offered the best solution for our needs. For the first time, we're bringing the casino to our guests so they can play their favorite games on their mobile devices when they are lounging by the pool, relaxing in their rooms, or anywhere else onboard."

Jordan Levin, president of interactive at Scientific Games said: "We are thrilled that Carnival Corporation chose our mobile wagering solution for its cruise ships. This relationship expands the reach of our mobile wagering platform and enables Carnival to engage with their guests in a whole new way by offering a world-class gaming experience that adds more thrills to their vacation at sea."

The service is already in successful operation on the Carnival Breeze and the Carnival Freedom from the company's Carnival Cruise Line brand and will be launched shortly on the Regal Princess from the company's Princess Cruises brand, with additional installations pending for the Holland America Line, P&O Cruises (UK) and AIDA Cruises brands. The mobile gaming application is available for download before your cruise in the App Store for iOS devices, and on Google Play for Android devices. If you've forgotten to download before you sail, the game content may also be accessed from onboard by visiting www.seaplay.com.

Queen Victoria Returns to Service Following 20-Day Re-Fit
Queen Victoria sailed past a fusillade of fireworks to mark the start of her 2015 World Voyage and show off her stunning new look. The ship set out from Southampton in tip-top form having just returned from an intensive 20 day refurbishment at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. You can view footage of Queen Victoria's refurbishment here.

Carnival Launches Shipboard Mobile Gaming SolutionNine brand new single staterooms were installed as part of the refurbishment. In addition to refreshing existing furnishings, enhancements have been made to the outdoor spaces, beverage provision in the ship's informal Lido restaurant and eight brand new internet stations have been installed on the upper floor of the library.

2,000 contractors representing thirty different nationalities worked a total of 600,000 man hours around the clock to replace all 215,278 square feet of carpet in the passenger areas. They also renewed all 3,167 mattresses on board and replaced over 19,685 square feet - 3.75 miles - of pipe work insulation. 2,695 gallons of paint were used inside and out, enough to paint 54 Boeing 737's.

"The results of Queen Victoria's refit are a true testament to Cunard's ability to respond to passenger input. We are delighted to incorporate their wish for more outdoor space with enhancements to the Upper Grill Terrace and additional areas for sunbathing. We also provided more single staterooms for our single travelers. It's this commitment to our passengers that keeps Cunard's 175 year heritage going strong," commented Rick Meadows, President of Cunard, North America.

In honour of the company's anniversary, Queen Victoria welcomed her World Voyage passengers aboard with a commemorative flag-raising ceremony which took place at the ship's mast. This was to hoist the signature flag for the first time on board and as is traditional, was performed by the youngest crew member, 20 year-old deck cadet Fraser Browne. The flag will be flown at iconic landmarks across the world during all three of the fleet's World Voyages and will be auctioned at their conclusion with all proceeds going to The Prince's Trust, Cunard's official charity.

A volley of fireworks illuminated the sky overhead as Queen Victoria set sail. The ship's first call will be Ponta Delgada in the Azores on 23 January before she sails to the Caribbean, transits the Panama Canal and heads for Hawaii and Australia.

Cunard Royal Rendezvous as Queen Elizabeth Makes Maiden Call to Long Beach
On 5 February 2015, Cunard's Queen Elizabeth will meet her royal relative, the legendary Queen Mary, in a Cunard Royal Rendezvous when Queen Elizabeth docks in Long Beach for the first time ever. This historic maiden call is particularly significant, not only because it is the first time a Cunard vessel has ever called at Long Beach, but because both Cunard and the Queen Mary are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. Cunard is marking 175 years since the first Transatlantic Crossing from England to the United States, inaugurating scheduled mail service to the U.S. and changing the face of ocean travel forever. The Queen Mary, who has crossed the Atlantic over 2,000 times while in service and is now a permanent hotel and museum in Long Beach harbor, is commemorating 80 years afloat.

Cunard Royal Rendezvous as Queen Elizabeth Makes Maiden Call to Long BeachThe day will be marked with celebration and fanfare for the public, with traditional whistle salutes between the ships and a robust fireworks display. The best public viewing location is on the Promenade Deck of the Queen Mary, at the aft (back) of the ship. Complimentary access will be offered, and parking will be $15.00. Queen Elizabeth will sail into Long Beach harbor at approximately 7:00am, and depart the port at approximately 6:00pm, followed by a whistle exchange salute with the Queen Mary, and fireworks display, before she proceeds on her journey.

"During our 175-year history, the Queen Mary has been one of our most beloved ships," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "This meeting of the Queens will be especially memorable for our passengers, as this maiden call offers them the opportunity to disembark in Long Beach and experience the Queen Mary, an integral part of our history and tradition."

Prior visits by Cunard ships to Long Beach have been restricted to floating salutes where the modern ships hovered in place while honouring their ancestor. The 5 February visit will see Queen Elizabeth dock nearby the Queen Mary - a first for Long Beach and Cunard...and the royal relatives.

Enhancing the Queen Elizabeth's visit, and in recognition of the Queen Mary's 80 years of public life, a new Ship Model Gallery will be dedicated on the Queen Mary in a private ceremony at 11:00am. Located on the Promenade Deck, the model gallery will open to the public at 12:30pm, and will house many important ship models and is the first phase of the Queen Mary's announced plans to create a world-class maritime museum and learning center aboard the ship.

"Having Queen Elizabeth in port for the Gallery dedication makes it even more special," said The Queen Mary's General Manager, John Jenkins.

Included in the Gallery will be priceless large models of some of the world's greatest ships; Titanic, Lusitania, Normandie along with contemporary Cunard liners, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and QE2. Overall some 15 ship models will debut - with others on the way. The exhibition will also present the original Bassett-Lowke shipbuilder's model of the Queen Mary - a spectacular and historically significant ship model measuring over 20 feet in length.

During Cunard's legendary history, the iconic Queen Mary epitomized the Golden Age of Ocean Travel. She also served as a British Royal Mail Ship (RMS) and as a troopship during World War II. Winston Churchill credited the Queen Mary and the original Queen Elizabeth with ending World War II one year early as they carried over 1.5 million troops between them. The Queen Mary's influence lives on today, inspiring Cunard's modern fleet; and she continues to be a popular tourist and maritime destination as a hotel and museum in Long Beach Harbor, located 40 miles south of Los Angeles.

The elegant Queen Elizabeth captured the world stage in 2010 when Her Majesty The Queen christened her in a Royal Naming Ceremony in Southampton, England, amongst more than 1,500 guests, celebrities and dignitaries. As the youngest in Cunard's fleet, Queen Elizabeth recalls the rich heritage of the first Cunarder to bear the name, and features many unique Cunard traditions linking her with her predecessors, but with all the modern day luxuries Cunard guests have come to expect. The ship's adherence to liner traditions is most evident through art deco touches, elegant double- and triple-height public rooms on a grand scale, intricate mosaics, hand-woven carpets, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles.

Key features of Queen Elizabeth include a specially commissioned portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as an 18.5 ft. marquetry piece of the original Queen Elizabeth, expertly created by David Linley, the only nephew of Her Majesty.

Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Deal to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China
Carnival Corporation & plc today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Merchants Group (CMG) to explore the possibility of two joint ventures designed to accelerate the development and growth of the overall cruise industry in China.

The MOU outlines a potential strategic partnership between Carnival Corporation and CMG that includes exploring two possible joint ventures in support of China's ambitions to grow the cruising industry in China and meet escalating demand for cruises amongst Chinese travelers:

• Ship-Owning Joint Venture: Carnival Corporation and CMG will explore a joint venture that would own and operate its own cruise ships as part of the first-ever domestic Chinese cruise line specifically targeted to the Chinese market. The joint venture would explore the possibility of sourcing new ships that are designed and built in China, along with the possibility of acquiring existing cruise ships.

• Port & Destination Development Joint Venture: In this potential joint venture, CMG and Carnival Corporation would collaborate to develop turnaround and transit ports within and around China beginning with a flagship port currently being developed by CMG called Prince Bay Cruise Terminal in Shekou, which is located in Shenzhen. The partners would work to have cruise ships sail from this flagship port, while also developing other cruise ship destinations across China and Northern Asia.

Carnival Corporation and China Merchants Group Sign Deal to Help Expand the Cruise Industry in China"The MOU we signed today signifies a great opportunity to take the next step in the future of Chinese cruising, while addressing some key needs for both the cruise industry and its passengers in China," said Alan Buckelew, COO of Carnival Corporation. "With CMG's amazing track record, reach and influence in the market, we are working with a strategic partner that can help us explore immediate ways to impact cruise growth in China, including the possibility of a new Chinese cruise brand and new destinations."

Carnival Corporation and CMG formalized their strategic partnership during an event held today at the Hilton Shenzhen Shekou, including an MOU signing ceremony involving Yang Tian Ping, general manager of China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone, and Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer of Carnival Corporation. The ceremony was also attended by the vice president of China Merchants Group, Sun Cheng Ming, among other distinguished officials and guests.

CMG, China's oldest state enterprise founded in 1872, focuses on transportation, infrastructure, financial services and real estate development, and has had a critical impact on the development of China's economy over the company's more than 140-year history. In support of China's goal to become a preeminent global cruise market, CMG and Carnival Corporation are collaborating as strategic partners to develop the infrastructure required to help accelerate growth in the cruise industry, which is one of the key emerging industries that could help fuel China's overall maritime economy.

While pursuing potential joint ventures to develop and grow the overall cruise market in China, Carnival Corporation remains committed to serving its Chinese guests who are already sailing on the two Carnival brands that give the company the cruise industry's leading presence in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises.

Carnival Corporation just recently announced its plans for immediate capacity growth in China in 2015 to meet growing demand. With Costa Cruises adding the Costa Serena in China in April of this year, Carnival Corporation will be the first global cruise company with four ships homeported in China. Costa Serena joins Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Sapphire Princess already homeported in China. Carnival Corporation is growing its leading market presence by 140 percent from 2013 – 2015 and expects to carry 500,000 cruise passengers in China in 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.76 + 3.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.75 + 2.11%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 2.49%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.05 = 2.33%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
We all know that Titanic's sister ship Olympic was broken up in 1937. What is amazing is that part of Olympic survived and still sails the seas today. What part of Olympic survived and where is it today?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Just before the Imperator entered service in 1913, something was added to her design to ensure that she would be the longest liner in the world. What was added?

Answer - To increase the Imperator's length to overtake that of the RMS Aquitania a large bronze eagle figurehead was placed on the forward bow to make her the longest liner of the period.
courtesy of Bruce McKenzie, Guam, USA


Cruise News - January 19, 2015

HAL Reveals Summer 2016 European Itineraries for ms Koningsdam
In summer 2016, Holland America Line's newest ship, ms Koningsdam, will debut a series of northern Europe and Baltic cruises as part of the premium line's robust Europe season that features seven ships sailing throughout the region. Koningsdam's summer itineraries — and all of Holland America Line's 2016 summer Europe sailings — will be available for booking in early February.

HAL Reveals Summer 2016 European Itineraries for ms KoningsdamFollowing a series of previously announced seven- and 12-day Premiere Sailings from Feb. 20 through April in the Mediterranean, the ship will reposition from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, to its summer homeport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Koningsdam will then go on to sail roundtrip Amsterdam itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland, where breathtaking vistas and grand fjords await.

"For the first summer sailing season of our beautiful new ship ms Koningsdam, we've crafted some incredible itineraries to Europe's most beautiful ports," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We recommend booking early because response to Koningsdam's Premiere Voyages was overwhelmingly positive."

Koningsdam's 13-day repositioning cruise from the Med departs May 9 and explores 10 ports in Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, France, Belgium and the Netherlands before ending with an overnight at Amsterdam.

Once at Amsterdam, the ship will begin exciting seven- and 14-day cruises to Norway that showcase the country's majestic scenery and quaint landscapes. A seven-day itinerary in May, July and August calls at Flam, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with scenic cruising in Sognefjord and Oslofjord. Another seven-day itinerary in June and July calls at Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, with scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord. A seven-day voyage in August calls at Bergen, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Alesund and Eidfjord, with Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord scenic cruising.

A longer 14-day Norwegian exploration departs May 29 and July 17, and crosses the Arctic Circle while calling at eight ports in Norway. Guests also will enjoy memorable scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord, Trondheimsfjord, the North Cape and Sognefjord.

Travelers looking to visit the British Isles and Iceland can embark Koningsdam Aug. 14 for a cruise to Newcastle upon Tyne, England; South Queensferry (Edinburgh) and Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland; Reykjavik (overnight), Isafjordur and Akuruyri, Iceland; and Alesund and Bergen, Norway.

The Baltic awaits Koningsdam's guests on two 14-day itineraries in June and September, also sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam. The ship calls at the most sought-after ports in the region, with visits to Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde (Berlin) and Kiel (Hamburg), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg (overnight), Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden.

At the end on the season, Koningsdam sails from Amsterdam to Civitavecchia on a 12-day journey that visits England, Gibraltar, Portugal and four ports in Spain. On Oct. 24 the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on a 14-day voyage that crosses the Atlantic following calls at Alicante, Malaga (Granada) and Huelva (Seville), Spain; and Funchal, Madeira.

As previously announced, Koningsdam's seven-day Premier Voyage sails roundtrip from Civitavecchia departing Feb. 20 to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kerkira (Corfu) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Naples, Italy. The 12-day Premiere Sailings that follow are two alternating itineraries roundtrip from Civitavecchia. The "Greek & Turkish Treasures" itinerary calls at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Crete, Greece; Istanbul (overnight) and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Naples, Italy. This itinerary also will be offered Sept. 30, in addition to the Premiere spring departures.

The "Mediterranean Mosaic" itinerary spends 12 days visiting Naples, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar, British Territory; and Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena and Barcelona (overnight), Spain, sailing roundtrip from Civitavecchia. In addition to the Premiere spring departures, this itinerary also will depart Oct 12.

Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. The vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public spaces and venues, while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

To bring a fresh vision to ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped Adam D. Tihany, one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany joins distinguished maritime designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten who worked with Holland America Line on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. The two firms will create an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line's renowned classic elegance.

The line recently unveiled the first series of interior renderings for ms Koningsdam on their website, and additional details will continue to be revealed over the coming months, including plans for the ship's official christening.

Celebrity Releases First Look Into New Suite Class Restaurant - "Luminae"
Inspired by the essence of light, exceptional food, wine and luxury – Celebrity Cruises has revealed the first look into newly named “Suite Class” restaurant, “Luminae.” Vacationers who indulge in the premium brand’s Suite Class now can discover more details about the exclusive dining experience. Luminae will be introduced onboard Celebrity’s modern luxury ships beginning in April.

Celebrity Releases First Look Into New Suite Class Restaurant - Luminae"Guests dining at the brand's first suite restaurant will enjoy warm hospitality, impeccable Celebrity service, and eclectic, one-of-a-kind menus that are only available in Luminae.

Celebrity's dedicated team of chefs has created the new elegant menus for the venue’s complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner - each menu item will only be featured once during a two-week cruise vacation. With handcrafted dishes that are made from scratch, the unique menus will also feature locally sourced regional and seasonal ingredients inspired by the destinations Celebrity sails to among the world’s seven continents.

"Everything about Luminae embodies an inspirational culinary journey for our guests. We want them to savor soulful, technique-driven cuisine, while enjoying warm and personalized service in a relaxed, stylish setting," said John Suley, James Beard-featured Executive Chef, Celebrity Cruises. "The menus will be exquisite and guests can choose from dishes such as caviar and crème fraîche, a creamy black truffle risotto with fricassee of wild mushrooms and Parmigiano-Reggiano and a côte de bœuf with roasted root vegetables and béarnaise sauce. The handcrafted desserts will provide the sweetest ending, and a favorite of mine is the mascarpone cheesecake and pistachio nougatine with yuzu brown butter and apricot sorbet. Every menu has been precisely designed with our guests’ varied palates in mind, and we hope they will love our informal, luxury dining experience."

With special touches like tableside preparation of signature dishes and the daily presentation of a new delectable gourmet chocolates and desserts cart, the menus are complete with pairings made by the restaurant’s dedicated head sommelier. The wine list, specially designed for Luminae guests, will feature more than 400 selections, each from the most notable wine-producing countries in the world.

Realizing Celebrity's Suite Class experience – the culmination of warm intuitive service, award-winning dining and upscale benefits – Luminae is a culinary experience of modern, diverse cuisine that will scintillate the tastebuds.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Announced as Headline Act Aboard Queen Mary 2
Cunard announced this week that Crosby, Stills & Nash will perform a series of exclusive concerts on board the company’s Flagship, Queen Mary 2, during her 4-11 September Transatlantic Crossing.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Announced as Headline Act Aboard Queen Mary 2FThe Grammy Award winning trio, who first performed together at the now legendary Woodstock Festival over four decades ago, will perform three exclusive concerts for passengers on board Queen Mary 2 during the seven-night Transatlantic Crossing from New York to Southampton.

"This will be a unique experience for us,” said Graham Nash. "We're really looking forward to making music, bringing back memories and creating new ones - and this journey from New York to Southampton, on this beautiful vessel, will do just that.”

Crosby, Stills & Nash (CS&N) burst onto the music scene in 1969 with their self titled debut LP, now one of Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. The band members are among the few to have been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once with CS&N and a second time with The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies. They have also been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of fame, with the honour recognising both CS&N as a group and each member as individual solo artists.

During the Queen Mary 2 crossing from New York (M519A), the trio will perform some of their greatest hits including ‘Teach Your Children’, ‘Southern Cross’ and ‘Wooden Ships’ in the Royal Court Theatre. They will also participate in a Q&A session and a special autograph opportunity for passengers on board.

Angus Struthers, Cunard’s Marketing Director said:

“We are thrilled to welcome Crosby, Stills & Nash on board our Flagship in our 175th anniversary year. It’s not very often you get to see Rock and Roll legends perform in such an intimate setting, and our passengers are in for a real treat. After four decades in the music industry, the trio are still selling out concerts and Queen Mary 2 will make a magnificent backdrop against which to see them perform. The band’s presence on board amply demonstrates the calibre of internationally acclaimed artists and talent Cunard continues to attract.”

Norwegian Escape to Feature a Series of Branded Experiences
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced a multitude of new partnerships with leaders in the fields of dining, beverage and entertainment to feature innovative branded experiences onboard Norwegian Escape. During an exclusive event in New York City, the line revealed that their largest ship ever, Norwegian Escape, will include several new culinary experiences, along with two Tony Award-winning musicals, and a unique Supper Club, when she begins sailing from her homeport of Miami in November 2015.

Foodies will delight in Norwegian Escape's ultimate culinary experiences, which will be helmed by James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces and Miami restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group; in addition to new beverage concepts The District Brewhouse, featuring craft beers from Wynwood Brewing Company, and The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. Guests will be dazzled by three new shows, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals After Midnight and Million Dollar Quartet, along with a new supper club concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, For The Record presents Dear John Hughes, featuring classic soundtracks from favorite motion pictures in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret and dinner experience.

Norwegian Escape to Feature a Series of Branded Experiences<"With Norwegian Escape, we are transforming culinary experiences at sea and continuing our legacy of innovation that has revolutionized dining in the cruise industry," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "We are building on our solid foundation of branded partnerships, including Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and welcoming new ideas and flavors from award-winning chefs. Norwegian also continues to pave the way as a leader in entertainment, as we bring two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals and a post-modern cabaret direct from Los Angeles to Norwegian Escape."

oNew Concepts by Jose Garces = James Beard Award-winning Iron Chef Jose Garces will launch two specialty restaurants onboard Norwegian Escape, his first at sea. Known for his dining concepts from Philadelphia to Phoenix, Chef Jose Garces brings Latin-inspired culinary expertise, ranging from classic Mexican dishes to Cuban specialties. His breadth of culinary expertise along with his passion for cooking made him the perfect choice to lead the signature dining concepts on Norwegian Escape. Bayamo by Jose Garces will highlight Latin dishes with a Cuban-influence in a chic dining room and al fresco on The Waterfront. Dishes will feature the flavors of Latin America with Spanish influences, such as Berenjenas, roasted eggplant with tomato rice and a saffron emulsion; and Bacalao Carbonizado, black cod with a squid ink glaze, saffron, and tomato and chorizo rice, among others.

Pincho Tapas Bar by Jose Garces will offer traditional Spanish tapas à la carte in a lively, casual setting. Plates will be prepared on an authentic la plancha grill right at the bar in front of guests and feature Latin dishes including Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelette), Boquerones (white anchovies with pine nuts), and Jamón Ibérico (specialty ham imported from Spain).

Sugarcane Mojito Bar, a Norwegian guest favorite, will complete the space and serve as an entry to Bayamo. Guests who wish to have a cocktail before dinner can settle into the tropical setting, enjoy live Latin music, and select from more than 10 different mojitos and rum-based cocktails and can even select a "flight" of mojitos to sample to tantalize their taste buds.

Food Republic = A brand new concept for Norwegian, the Food Republic will be a modern, upscale food emporium from The Pubbelly Restaurant Group featuring global cuisine for sampling and sharing. Guests dining in the Food Republic will experience a culinary journey via small plates, with flavors ranging from Asia to Central Europe and the Mediterranean, all available à la carte.

As some of the hottest restaurateurs in Miami, partners Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro, have opened six concepts in the Magic City over the past three years. With a focus on creating unique flavor combinations and precise techniques, Director of Culinary Operations and Founding Partner Jose Mendin has been recognized as a semi-finalist for Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation for three consecutive years, as well as nominated as People's Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.

Open for lunch through dinner, Food Republic menu highlights include Dates with Chorizo featuring smoked bacon, spicy tomato and goat cheese crema; Japanese Amberjack with lemongrass romesco, charred tomato and hazelnuts; and Black Truffle Braised Shortrib Dumplings, with white corn soy, red shiso leaf, and grana padano. The Food Republic offers guests the freedom and flexibility to choose what they want, when they want it, with convenient iPad ordering. With a simple swipe of their key card, food is prepared to order and brought directly to the guest's table.

The District Brew House - A concept never before done at sea, the District Brew House is a hip, urban craft beer hall featuring an exclusive partnership with Miami's own Wynwood Brewing Company. Complete with a keg room, 24 draft beers on tap and more than 50 different bottled beers, the District Brew House is sure to be the new hangout onboard for beer connoisseurs and fans alike. The award-winning Wynwood Brewing Company is known for their signature brew, La Rubia Blonde Ale, perfect for the warm Caribbean weather. Along with La Rubia, the District will also serve an all-new brew from Wynwood Brewing Company that will be available exclusively on Norwegian Escape. The District Brew House will also offer a menu of gastropub-style plates for snacking that will complement the beer and beverage offerings, including handcrafted cocktails from Bar Lab's James Beard Award-nominated mixologists Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi. Guests sampling the District's many offerings will also be well-entertained, with interactive nightlife and sing-alongs of everyone's favorite tunes, as well as a traditional photo booth, where guests can add their photo to the District's pin board and leave their mark on this cool new space.

The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar - Norwegian Escape will also be home to the line's first wine bar in partnership with the Michael Mondavi Family - The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. From the novice to the enthusiast, The Cellars features an array of immersive wine experiences, focusing on tasting, education, and the enjoyment of wine, all accompanied by small plates and tapas, available à la carte.

The curated wine list features 35 grape varietals including top selections from Tuscany's Ornellaia and Michael Mondavi's own Napa Valley Estate. The Wine Bar offers guests both a sleek indoor tasting room, and 180 degree ocean views at the outdoor wine bar on The Waterfront, with service provided by a Court of Master Sommeliers certified Sommelier.

Carlo's Bake Shop - While onboard, guests will also enjoy delicious treats from Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's "Cake Boss" and "Next Great Baker." The decadent confections that the original Carlo's bakery is known for, including Carlo's Bake Shop's famous cannolis, lobster tails, tiramisu, plus a variety of other unique cakes, cupcakes and Italian cookies, will all be available à la carte for guests who wish to indulge their sweet tooth.

New Entertainment Offerings - Continuing with Norwegian's commitment to excellence in entertainment, Norwegian Escape will feature two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals headlining in the Escape Theater that will have guests dancing in the aisles. Winner of the Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire Awards for Best Choreography, After Midnight, which recently completed its run on Broadway, is the smash-hit musical that combines the big-band songs of Duke Ellington, a roof-raising onstage jazz band, and the best dancing from Broadway. A cast of megawatt singers, dancers and tappers will bring Harlem's Cotton Club to life in a never-before-seen phenomenon at sea. After Midnight on Norwegian Escape will be presented by special arrangement with Scott Sanders Productions.

Also showing in the Escape Theater following a successful run on Broadway and currently touring nationally as well as performing in Las Vegas, Million Dollar Quartet is the smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock 'n' roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. On December 4, 1956, these four young musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "Great Balls of Fire," "Walk the Line," and more. This thrilling musical will bring guests inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock 'n' roll band for one unforgettable night.

In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Escape, the Supper Club has been re-imagined for an unforgettable dinner and show. For The Record is a critically acclaimed Hollywood night that celebrates classic soundtracks of motion picture masters in a one-of-a kind 360° post-modern cabaret. Guests will spend an evening with a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal in this mashed-up retrospective of the John Hughes' coming of age 1980's teen films. The audience will laugh, cry, stomp their feet and relive the classic new wave sounds from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Expanding a successful run that began on Norwegian Getaway, Headliners Comedy Club will offer up the nation's top comedians through the line's expanded partnership with Levity Entertainment Group, the world's largest producer of live comedy. Levity employs over 300 artists nationwide each week, including some of the biggest names in comedy, including Daniel Tosh, Amy Shumer and Jeff Dunham, who is currently the most successful touring comedian worldwide.

Carnival Launches New Shipboard Mobile App
Carnival Cruise Line has launched a new free mobile app that provides vacationers aboard Carnival Breeze with a variety of useful information to maximize the fun on their next Carnival cruise. The app includes an innovative "chat" feature that allows guests to exchange messages with their traveling companions using their mobile devices throughout the voyage for a low flat fee of $5 for the entire cruise.

The line is also piloting enhanced Internet access aboard Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine that dramatically increases bandwidth and speed and also includes a first-ever social media package providing unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other popular sites for a fee of just $5 per day or $25 per voyage during the testing period.

Carnival Launches New Shipboard Mobile App"Consumers expect a high level of connectivity even while on vacation and these new enhancements provide our guests not only with helpful tools for getting the most out of their cruise but also a convenient and cost-effective way for keeping in touch with their family and friends while on board," said Gus Antorcha, Carnival's senior vice president of guest commerce. "We recognize the increasingly important role that technology plays in people's daily lives and the launch of this application and new Internet packages provides us with a strong platform for introducing additional innovations and ways to use technology to enhance our guest experience even further."

New Mobile Smartphone App Pilot on Carnival Breeze

Currently being piloted on Carnival Breeze, the new free Carnival Hub app is designed to provide guests with a convenient, at-a-glance view of the ship's many shipboard facilities and features along with updates on events and happenings taking place on board.

Also available is a "chat" feature where guests can communicate with anyone on board from their mobile devices. The price for the chat feature, which includes a group chat option, is $5 per voyage during the testing period.

The app also includes:

• A day-by-day schedule of hundreds of on-board events, from nightly show times at the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez and Playlist Production shows to movies and sporting events on the big screen at Seaside Theatre and Seuss at Sea events

• A "favorites" feature that allows guests to see what events and activities their sailing companions are participating in

• Information on casual dining options such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and The Taste Bar, along with details on the RedFrog Pub and other popular watering holes

• Searchable deck plans with key areas highlighted, providing a comprehensive layout of the ship's various on-board offerings

• Itinerary details, including current ship time and arrival/departure times for upcoming port calls

• Real-time information on guests' current Sail & Sign shipboard account balance

The app is currently available for the Carnival Breeze for iPhone and Android users via their respective app stores with fleetwide rollout planned within the next 18 to 24 months. During this time, the line will continue to add more fun and functional features to help guests have an even more personalized and memorable cruise vacation, such as the ability to purchase shore excursions, view photos taken by the ship's professional photographers on board, and more.

Carnival is also piloting new Internet access and plans on Carnival Freedom, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Sunshine – including the cruise industry's first social media package. With these new choices, consumers are offered a wide range of convenient options as well as increased bandwidth, providing enhanced service and connectivity, all at prices that are significantly lower than previous plans.

With the new social media package, guests can use popular apps or sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest for a flat fee of $5 per day or $25 per voyage during the initial testing period. Unlike other Internet packages, the social media package is unique in that it allows guests a convenient, flexible and highly affordable option for updating their favorite social media pages during their cruise at one low price.

Guests can also upgrade to a "value" package that includes unlimited access to the Web for checking email, sports scores, weather updates and a wide range of other applications.

There's also a "premium" package that provides the fastest available connection speed allowing guests to access video calling sites like Skype.

The mobile app and enhanced Internet packages will roll out to additional ships following successful completion of the initial pilot programs. Additional features and functionality are also in development and will be phased in over time.

"In creating both the Internet plans and the app, we spent a lot of time listening to our guests to understand their needs and develop these products accordingly," said Gabriela Gonzalez, Carnival's vice president of guest technology and photo. "While we trusted the plans and the app would be well received, we are stunned by how quickly and widely they have been embraced during the pilot period. We're excited to bring these innovations to more ships over the coming months while we continue to work to make them even better," she added.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.38 - 1.97%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.00 +- 0.31%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 45.00 - 0.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Just before the Imperator entered service in 1913, something was added to her design to ensure that she would be the longest liner in the world. What was added?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the final fate of Cunard's Caronia of 1948, also known as the "Green Goddess"?

Answer - Cunards Caronia went aground and sank at Guam while under tow to the scrap yard.
courtesy of William Rose, Thiells, New York


Cruise News - January 12, 2015

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Introduces Seven Seas Explorer

With an opulent 3,875-square-foot suite, extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is setting a new standard for luxury vacations with the launch of Seven Seas Explorer.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises Introduces Seven Seas ExplorerDebuting in summer 2016, the 56,000 gross-registered ton, all-suite, all-balcony ship will carry just 750 guests, boasting the highest space ratio in the cruise industry. Designed to be the most luxurious ship ever built, every inch of the vessel will evoke elegance and grace.

"We set a high benchmark for Seven Seas Explorer, not only to build a ship that far surpasses the current standard in luxury cruising, but to design a ship that will be recognized industry-wide as the most luxurious ship ever," said Jason Montague, Regent Seven Seas Cruises president and chief operating officer. "We cannot wait to share this ship with the world when she joins our fleet in the summer of 2016."

Suites - Regent Seven Seas Cruises will introduce a new category of luxury suite exclusively for Seven Seas Explorer that sets the tone for the well-appointed and spacious all-suite accommodations found throughout the ship. Named the Regent Suite, the plush two-bedroom, 3,875-square foot suite comes complete with an in-room spa retreat, a first at sea, with a personal sauna, steam room and treatment area. The suite also features an outdoor, glass-enclosed sitting area aptly named the Vista Garden, where guests can enjoy magnificent, unobstructed 270-degree views over the ship's bow and toward the horizon.

Dining - Seven Seas Explorer will feature an unrivaled collection of specialty, casual and main dining options for guests to enjoy aboard the ship. Each restaurant exhibits its own intricate and elegant design, providing a dining atmosphere that deftly complements the high service level and diverse menu offerings.

The ship will offer three distinct specialty restaurants, including the fleet-wide signature steakhouse, Prime 7, highlighted by dark purple hues and silver accents reminiscent of a London private members club. The hallmark main dining room Compass Rose will have a sophisticated contemporary look with an airy design motif and a whimsical grotto feel. The Italian Riviera-inspired La Veranda offers a delectable buffet for breakfast and lunch and transforms into an elegant fine dining restaurant, Sette Mari at La Veranda, each evening for dinner.

Lounges - The ship's primary showplace, the two-tiered Constellation Theater, pays homage to the glamour of Hollywood's golden age. The ornate 694-seat theater beckons guests with posh cabaret-style seating intermixed with cocktail tables that feature hand-blown Murano glass lamps.

The Observation Lounge brings to life the opulence and indulgences of the Roaring Twenties. As if ripped from the pages of The Great Gatsby, the lounge's design features a color palate of rich silver, gold, black and white hues, and floor to ceiling windows for incredible ocean vistas.

The Explorer Lounge provides a country club vibe with rich mahogany wood columns, comfortable leather chairs and deep blue fabrics. On one side of the lounge, a golden proscenium outlines a small stage where live musical performances will take place, and anchoring the opposite end, a polished black marble bar stands ready to serve guests their favorite beverages.

The maiden voyage for Seven Seas Explorer will be a 14-night sailing from Monte Carlo to Venice on July 20, 2016.

HAL's ms Zuiderdam Rescues Eight Crewmembers From Sinking Vessel
At 2:10 a.m. Jan. 3, 2015, while en route to Oranjestad, Aruba, Holland America Line's ms Zuiderdam answered a distress call from the Bahamian inter-island vessel Excalibur that was sinking with eight crewmembers onboard. Zuiderdam was approximately 15 miles away and the closest ship in the area.

HAL's ms Zuiderdam Rescues Eight Crewmembers From Sinking VesselZuiderdam altered course and was able to successfully execute a nighttime rescue of all eight crewmembers at 3:01 a.m. The ship brought them onboard and provided food and accommodations. The rescued crewmembers debarked in Aruba on Jan. 5.

"Congratulations to the officers and crew onboard Zuiderdam for their quick response that saved the lives of eight people," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We are proud to be able to come to the rescue when called upon, and it's even more gratifying when everything goes as smoothly as this operation did."

Zuiderdam currently is in the middle of a 10-night Panama Canal cruise roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that departed Jan. 2 with calls at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Oranjestad, Aruba: Willemstad, Curacao; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica in addition to a partial Panama Canal transit.

In addition, on Jan. 4 ms Zaandam came to the aid of seven crewmembers from the sailing yacht Polonus that were staying at the Arctowski Polish research station at King George Island in Antarctica. The crew, all Polish nationals, were stranded after their yacht went aground. They are being taken to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and will disembark Jan. 11.

Cunard offering "Lusitania Remembered" Cruise
Cunard announced this week that as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations in 2015, it will be remembering the sinking of the Lusitania with a special cruise departing from Southampton on May 3rd. From Southampton the itinerary includes stops at St Peter Port, Le Havre, Cobh, and Dublin before returning to Southampton on May 10th.

Cunard offering In the announcement, Cunard invited passengers to join them and be a part of their illustrious history by sailing on the "Lusitania Remembered" cruise. The cruise line said that their current vessel, Queen Victoria, pays fitting tribute to this ‘floating palace’ on the 100th anniversary of her sinking, the single most tragic event in the company's history. By sailing on the May 3rd cruise, passengers will be invited to attend ceremonies and events at the memorial in Cobh, close to where Lusitania still lies.

The Lusitania (1907), also called at the time ‘Lucy’, was a true ‘Monarch of the Sea’ designed to outclass the German liners like Kaiser Wilhelm der Gross and the Deutschland. Cunard decreed that their accommodation was to be ‘of a spaciousness and splendour hitherto unknown outside the great luxury hotels of the world’.

While still serving as a passenger liner, she left New York for Liverpool on 1st May 1915 with 1959 passengers and crew onboard. On 7th May 1915, a single torpedo fired from the German U-boat U-20 slammed into the starboard side of the Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. The ship listed and sank in just 18 minutes. While 761 of those on board were rescued, most were not so fortunate.

Did you know:

• The Lusitania was the largest ship ever built, until her sister Mauretania was completed the same year, 1907.

• Designed to be the fastest ship on the Atlantic, she took the Blue Riband Award for crossing to New York in 4 days, 19 hours and 52 minutes.

• Built for war as well as peace she was capable to carry guns and travel 25 knots in order to outpace submarines.

Princess Unveils North To Alaska! Program
Building on its long-standing recognition as the best Alaska cruise vacation, Princess Cruises today announced the launch of North to Alaska!, a series of new onboard offerings that fully immerse guests in the Great Alaska experience.

Princess Unveils North To Alaska! ProgramCreated in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local. North to Alaska! debuts in May 2015 on Princess cruises to Alaska.

"From world-famous Alaska seafood, to learning about life as a lumberjack, to Midnight Sun deck parties and more, we're bringing the last frontier onboard Princess ships to make the #1 vacation experience in Alaska even better," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The new program also demonstrates Princess' ongoing innovation in cruise vacations and our commitment to super-serving our guests with highly engaging and memorable experiences for the vacation of a lifetime."

North to Alaska! highlights include:

Eat Like A Local - Providing a culinary journey sure to be savored, Princess has partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to feature nightly a variety of authentic Alaska cuisine – including King Crab, King Salmon and fresh Halibut, among others - prepared by Princess chefs specially-trained by Alaska seafood chefs to capture a true taste of the North. Specialty restaurants will also offer a regional Alaska cuisine menu on select evenings.

In addition, Princess has partnered with some of the best Alaska area joints to provide local favorites and signature dishes onboard including crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau; fish tacos from Ketchikan's Alaska Fish House; and the Mermaid Burger from the Skagway Fish Company. The winning dish from the 2014 Great Alaska Seafood Cook-off, pan-seared Alaska salmon with root vegetable hash and mushroom tea, created by local chef Travis Haugen of Southside Bistro will be featured in the main dining rooms.

Learn From the Locals - With Alaska cruises all about discovery and exploration, Princess is bringing the variety of Alaska cultures onboard to regale guests with stories of life in Alaska and "a day in the life" hands-on interactive activities:
• From the popular Discovery Channel program, "The Deadliest Catch," Captain David Lethin and his shipmates from the Aleutian Ballad will relate their true-life adventures and experiences in the Bering Sea in pursuit of crab.
• Guests will live like a "logger head," learning the history of logging from a local lumberjack and participating in an axe-throwing competition.
• New York Times best-selling author and renowned storyteller Nick Jans will tell his compelling, emotional story of Romeo, the wolf, and the effect he had on the people of Juneau, as told in his book, "A Wolf Called Romeo."
• Kids and teens will explore their adventurous side with activities including a Jr. Ranger program, panning for gold, "The Deadliest Catch" crab-sorting game, an interactive green screen game and more.

• Celebrate Like a Local - Guests will experience the thrill and excitement of the Klondike, harkening back to the glory days of gold rush fever. Fun for the whole family, the Klondike festival onboard activities will include Alaska icon and sled-racing presentations, penny whistle classes, traditional dance performances, an arts and crafts show, and more. The festival day will culminate with a celebration of the natural phenomenon of a visible sun at night during the Midnight Sun top-deck party, complete with entertainment, games and specialty drinks.

In total, seven Princess ships offer more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, May – September, originating from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska.

For passengers interested in experiencing even more of the Great Land, Princess cruisetours offer an unmatched variety of itinerary options for a complete land and sea Alaska experience ranging from 10 to 15 nights. All cruisetours include a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers sailing including a visit to Glacier Bay National Park, plus up to four nights in the Denali National Park area with stays at Princess' riverside wilderness lodges.

Carnival Cruise Line To Celebrate Texas Arrival Of Carnival Freedom
Carnival Cruise Line will welcome Carnival Freedom to its new year-round homeport of Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, February 14, by hosting a celebration to honor U.S. military families. Through a partnership with Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial and other assistance to military families, Carnival will provide a day of onboard fun and exciting activities for service members and their families. Among the day's festivities will be a special outdoor Carnival LIVE performance by country superstar Martina McBride.

Carnival Cruise Line To Celebrate Texas Arrival Of Carnival Freedom"The arrival of Carnival Freedom to its new Galveston homeport is historic as it marks the first time a cruise line has based three year-round ships in Texas," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line. "We're thrilled to celebrate this occasion by giving back to the great state of Texas and welcoming aboard military families who make our freedom possible."

As part of the festivities, 14-time GRAMMY® nominee Martina McBride will perform that afternoon outdoors on one of the ship's top decks. The country singer has previously performed as part of the line's breakthrough onboard concert series, Carnival LIVE, which offers guests the best live music at sea from some of the most popular and highly requested music acts.

"I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to perform again on a Carnival ship and am thrilled that I was chosen to be part of this wonderful event that honors U.S. service members and their families," said Martina McBride. "I've played for many audiences in my career, but it will truly be a privilege to salute these incredible families and partner with Carnival to bring them an extra special Valentine's Day."

Military families who have registered through Operation Homefront will enjoy a full day and evening of fun aboard the 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom while it is in port, including overnight accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities, all compliments of Carnival Cruise Line.

Prior to the concert, Carnival will conduct a special check presentation to Operation Homefront providing $100,000 to the organization.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Carnival to honor military families and celebrate the cruise line's expansion in Texas," said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer of Operation Homefront. "While we serve military families across the nation, we're grateful for a partner like Carnival who wants to give back right here in our home state of Texas where we have the second largest active duty and veteran population in the country."

Carnival Freedom recently underwent a $70 million makeover which added an array of Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancements. Event attendees will have access to the ship's new family entertainment programming including Seuss at Sea, as well as the new Camp Ocean kids facilities. The latest updates also incorporated a number of bar, dining and entertainment innovations including complimentary eateries such as BlueIguana Cantina and Guy's Burger Joint, developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, poolside bars serving up delicious frozen drinks and cocktails including BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, as well as the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the line's Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Freedom kicks off year-round sailings from Galveston February 15, 2015, with a special six-day voyage to Mexico followed by the launch of four- to seven-day cruises that visit beautiful ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida. Together with Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic, the line will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas – more than any other cruise line.

Cunard Unveils Brand New Digital Animated Timeline Showcasing 175 Years
Celebrating 175 years of pioneering ocean travel, Cunard has unveiled a brand new animated timeline, giving viewers an insight into some of the most iconic moments in the shipping line's illustrious 175-year history.

Launched this morning on Cunard's website, the animation moves seamlessly through the decades, taking the viewer on an electrifying journey through some of the company's most significant moments in the last 175 years. The timeline begins in 1840 with Sir Samuel Cunard as Britannia makes its maiden transatlantic voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia. As this unique journey continues, the viewer is drawn through history, taking in Cunard's participation in WWI, the very first World Voyage in 1922 on Laconia, and the glamour and glitz of the 1950s. The fascinating animation takes Cunard's story right through to the present as we prepare to celebrate our big anniversary year.

Cunard Unveils Brand New Digital Animated Timeline Showcasing 175 YearsSimon Attwater, Group Creative Director at DigitasLBi, the global marketing and technology agency who, along with the award winning animation company NOMINT, worked with Cunard to create the detailed animation was excited by the unusual brief:

"As a history geek, the chance to look back at Cunard's illustrious 175 year history was a dream of a brief. Rifling through the annals was a delight and turned up wonderfully individual and quirky facts. We've woven them into a two and a half minute story that celebrates what it is that makes Cunard unique. Most brands don't have the luxury of an illustrious story that has literally changed history. Consequently many attempt to make one up. However, Cunard is different. After spending considerable time with the Cunard historian, Michael Gallagher we were blown away by the rich heritage of the company."

The task of squeezing 175 years into a two and half minute short animation was no small feat, providing creative challenges along the way. Christopher McKee and Richard Morgan, creative team at DigitasLBi continues:

"Our biggest challenge was realising our ambitious ideas, trying to animate 175 years proved tough as each decade looked so different. I think we're most proud of the complex New York scene because it says so much about Cunard as a brand. Also the WWI scene which, as viewers will see, communicates an important historical moment in a very respectful manner."

Celebrating 175 years of history, the gripping animation is sure to hold many surprises for those unfamiliar with Cunard's rich history, including the loss of twenty ships from the fleet when they were deployed during WWI from 1914-1918. As well as being called upon at time of crisis, the animation also details how Cunard played its part in the world of fashion and glamour as many of the world's most iconic movie stars graced the Promenade Deck of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in the 1950s. Fred Perry, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to mention just a few, were regular guests as they made their way across the Atlantic.

Richard Meadows, President, Cunard Line, North America said: "For those unfamiliar with Cunard, it's difficult to comprehend how much of a role the company has played in shaping the world of ocean travel as we know it today. This year is our 175th anniversary and we are proud to be able to showcase everything we have achieved in this time. We have so much planned for 2015, including events across the globe which we hope as many people as possible will join us for and take their place in our history books too."

Click here to watch the brand new animated timeline on Cunard's official YouTube channel.

Cunard will also launch a brand new social media campaign today which showcases the type of images that would have been taken over the generations on board our ships if modern technology, like the Smartphone 'selfie' phenomenon, were around 175 years ago.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.29 + 1.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.26 + 1.90%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 + 2.18%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 45.32 - 1.54%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the final fate of Cunard's Caronia of 1948, also known as the "Green Goddess"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When Cunard's Queen Mary departed New York for Europe in July of 1943 she carried a record number of passengers and crew - the most of any passenger vessel in war or peace. How many people did she carry on that historic voyage? (note: the closest answer wins this week's contest)

Answer - The Queen Mary set a record on July 25th 1943 sailing from New York to Gourock with 15.740 passengers and a crew of 943 totalling 16.683
courtesy of liberte50 at wtal.de


Cruise News - January 5, 2015

NCL's Norwegian Escape To Feature Snow Room
Norwegian Cruise Line's newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will offer a wide array of spaces for guests to relax and unwind while at sea when the ship debuts in October 2015. Guests will be transported into sheer serenity with the line's most innovative Mandara Spa to date, a tranquil hideaway that at its epicenter will feature the largest Thermal Suite at sea, outfitted with the line's first Snow Room. In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will have two private lounge spaces to enjoy onboard at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H20, which will feature an all-new grotto area for guests to cool off after a day of sunbathing.

Norwegian Escape's Mandara Spa experience, spanning two decks, will transport guests to a deep state of relaxation, with unobstructed views of the ocean, the opportunity to melt away on one of the 17 heated loungers, or find instant stress relief in the spa's hydro-therapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna, sanarium and salt room.

NCL's Norwegian Escape To Feature Snow RoomOnce guests have heated up, they can step into the rejuvenating cold Snow Room, a first for the line, and enter into arctic refreshment. The Snow Room, which ranges from a frosty 21 degrees to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, sends out a flurry of powdery snow throughout the day. Norwegian Escape's Snow Room offers guests a multitude of health benefits, including stimulating blood circulation in the body and strengthening the immune system.

In addition to the spectacular Thermal Suite, Norwegian Escape's Mandara Spa will be equipped with 24 contemporary furnished treatment rooms offering more than 50 signature services for both men and women including massages such as the Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage; Elemis signature facials such as the luxurious Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial; and signature body enhancing treatments like the Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow.

Norwegian Escape's full service salon will have guests looking their very best with a wide-array of hair, nails, waxing and kid-friendly services, along with acupuncture, teeth whitening and cosmetic medical treatments, performed by a licensed medi-spa doctor, such as Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport?, Restylane® and Perlane®. In addition, guests can go home tightened and toned by opting for a Thermage® CPT treatment, a premier non-invasive skin rejuvenating therapy that uses radiofrequency to improve the appearance of skin on the face and body in just one contour treatment. The salon area will also feature a Barber Shop, offering exclusive men's signature services such as the Elemis Pro-Collagen Grooming Treatment with Shave and more.

Guests looking to stay fit while sailing, or who wish to try an exciting new exercise experience, can do so in Norwegian Escape's state-of-the-art fitness center furnished with the latest Technogym® weight training and cardio equipment. All cardio equipment will synch to Apple music devices and feature a large, HD screen from which guests can watch television, follow a set training program or navigate the playlist. Norwegian group fitness favorites will be offered on board including Pilates, body sculpting boot camp, yoga, Zumba and TRX. Boxing buffs can enjoy Norwegian Fight Klub?, a high-intensity cardio boxing class. Personal training sessions will also be available, along with nutritional consultations and metabolic testing.

Norwegian Escape will also feature Spice H2O and Vibe Beach Club, two adult-only outdoor favorites perfect for lounging away the day. Spice H2O, located at the back of the ship on deck 17, is an adult-only enclave offering day-time complimentary leisure. A bevy of sun loungers surround a huge video screen, while two hot tubs await for those looking to de-stress. An all-new soothing grotto area, complete with waterfalls and perfect for cooling off from the warm Caribbean sun, will enchant guests upon entering the venue, offering an exotic escape. At night, all guests can dance under the stars in this open-air dance club or enjoy a cocktail at the bar with accompanying lounge area, featuring comfortable seating while admiring the ocean views.

Guests ages 18 and over will also have the opportunity to enjoy another private retreat ? Vibe Beach Club ? by purchasing an access pass. Complete with ocean views, a large hot tub, luxurious chaise loungers and a soothing water feature, Vibe Beach Club will be the ideal spot for adults to escape, offering a serene, comfortable setting while soaking up the sun. A full-service bar, water spritzers and chilled towels complete the exclusive experience.

New Law Requires Cruise companies To Publish Timely Crime Statistics
President Obama signed into law this week a Coast Guard reauthorization bill that includes a key provision ensuring the public has access to important safety information they need prior to booking a cruise. This provision was one of several cruise passenger safety provisions included in legislation California Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced last year, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA).

The bill language transfers the responsibility for maintaining the cruise vessel crime data website from the Coast Guard to the Department of Transportation and requires a number of changes to ensure the website is user-friendly and includes all important data. Specifically, it requires the website to be updated quarterly and sorted by cruise line. The website will be required to identify each cruise line by name, identify each crime committed or allegedly committed by a passenger or crewmember regardless of the status of the investigation, and identify the number of individuals alleged overboard.

New Law Requires Cruise companies To Publish Timely Crime Statistics“This is an important victory for cruise safety advocates and for the millions of Americans who have taken a cruise or are considering one in the future. While cruise ships are billed as safe, family-friendly vacations, the reality is that crime happens onboard these ships just as it does anyplace else,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “This key provision from the Cruise Passenger Protection Act will ensure that anyone considering a cruise can easily view a more accurate number of crimes that occurred on each cruise line, and the nature of the crime. This is a huge step forward toward transparency and ensuring the safety of cruise passengers.”

“The members of ICV are deeply indebted to the many members of the House and Senate who have been dedicated to the protection of cruise ship passengers. The Coast Guard Reauthorization Act will help to bolster and strengthen the existing CVSSA which Congresswoman Matsui authored in 2010 by increasing the public’s awareness through the quarterly publication of additional safety information and crime data. All of the victims of cruise ship crime and negligence who for years, have taken their impassioned stories to Congress can breathe a bit easier thanks to the unwavering support of Congress Members such as Congresswoman Matsui and Congressman Poe who like us believed in the irrefutable rightness of this cause. We are indeed grateful on this historic day,” said Kendall Carver, chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV).

Congresswoman Matsui is a long-time advocate for improving safety and security aboard cruise vessels. She authored the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in 2010, requiring the cruise industry to comply with a number of security and crime reporting provisions. Last year, she introduced the CPPA, legislation which would build on the passenger safety measures put in place by the CVSSA by clarifying and strengthening the crime reporting and video surveillance requirements. In addition to requiring the website improvements passed today, this legislation bolsters FBI notification requirements when an alleged incident occurs, and strengthens video surveillance requirements to ensure maximum protection for passengers and victims, while taking steps to avoid privacy concerns.

“The signing of this law is an important step for ensuring the safety of cruise passengers, but it is just a step. I will be reintroducing the Cruise Passenger Protection Act next Congress to ensure we continue to build upon the security and safety measures aboard our cruise ships, that consumers have access to accurate information, and that victims are given the support and resources they need and deserve,” added Matsui.

Princess Cruises Kicks Off 50th Anniversary with Float in The Rose Parade
The first day of the new year marked Princess Cruises’ first-ever debut in the iconic 126th Rose Parade, kicking off the cruise line’s 50th anniversary celebration. The float, themed “50 Years of Inspiring Travel” was awarded the prestigious Craftsman Trophy for Exceptional Achievement in Showmanship and Dramatic Impact.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015As a special feature the six original cast members of The Love Boat television show rode on the ship’s bow and “cruised” down the five-and-a-half mile parade route. In addition to paying tribute to the television show that made Princess Cruises one of the most famous names in cruising, the Rose Parade float depicted the line’s newest cruise ship Regal Princess symbolically sailing through the world’s fascinating destinations and iconic landmarks that guests have experienced with Princess for the past 50 years.

“Since the theme of this year’s Rose Parade was ‘Inspiring Stories,’ we thought it was the perfect opportunity to launch our 50th anniversary year celebrations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “For the last five decades our guests have been sailing with us to amazing places and they’ve returned with inspiring memories that have lasted a lifetime, and we want to celebrate this throughout our golden anniversary year.”

The Love Boat cast, including Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Chief Purser Gopher), Ted Lange (Bartender Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie) and Jill Whelan (Captain’s daughter Vicki), recently named Regal Princess, having served as the ship’s godparents before the cruise ship’s maiden Caribbean season and their appearance in the New Year’s Day parade.

Millions of viewers recognized the Sydney Opera House, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a traditional Japanese pagoda, the Golden Gate Bridge and the tropical flowers and water falls of the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, as well as the majestic mountains and wildlife as featured on Alaska cruises – just some of the sights travelers will see when sailing with Princess, whose ships visit 350 destinations around the globe.

The Princess Cruises float measured 60 feet long and 24 feet high with more than 24,000 flowers and natural materials. Flowers included roses, orchids and carnations, dendrobs, tulips, cymbidiums, delphiniums and gerbera daisies.

Paying tribute to the parade’s theme, Princess conducted a contest asking its past guests to share an inspiring story that occurred aboard a Princess cruise for a chance to ride on the float. The grand-prize winner was 91-year-old World War II veteran Nathan Keith Abbott, who took a Princess cruise back to the South Pacific, as he had long wished to revisit the islands where he served during the war.

Other riders who were selected told their inspiring stories about a variety of special celebrations including an engagement in front of a glacier in Alaska, a renewal of vows to mark 50 years of marriage, a celebration of life after surviving breast cancer, and a mother and daughter college graduation cruise to celebrate both of them receiving their degrees.

As a tribute to Princess’ 25,000 crew members and employees around the world who the company credits for delivering incredible cruise vacations to their guests, the float incorporated flower vials that were personally signed by 16,0000 employees, signifying their important role in the company’s successful past and exciting future.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015
Carnival Miracle will undergo an extensive refurbishment this spring that will add an array of new and exciting on-board innovations, from unique bar concepts like RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar to fun entertainment choices such as Playlist Productions and Hasbro, The Game Show, and the family-friendly Seuss at Sea program.

Carnival Miracle Entering Dry Dock In March 2015The new features – part of the line's ongoing Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative – will be added during a two-week-long dry dock that will take place March 7-21, 2015.

The enhancements include:

• RedFrog Pub – a Caribbean-inspired watering hole featuring the region's best rums and beers – including Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red – enjoyed in a distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West atmosphere

• Alchemy Bar – at this vintage-themed cocktail "pharmacy," mixologists "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative names like "Forty is the New Twenty" and "Restorative Basil Drop"

• Playlist Productions – these four spectacular shows – 88 Keys, 80's Pop To the Max, Getaway Island and Heart Of Soul – combine captivating live performances of recognizable pop and rock songs with dazzling special effects to create unforgettable evenings of entertainment

• Seuss At Sea – part an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Seuss at Sea brings the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to life with fun activities like the Green Eggs and Ham

• Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends, Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, and more

• Hasbro, The Game Show – this audience-participation favorite features larger-than-life adaptations of the company's iconic and popular games with titles like Connect4 Basketball, Sorry Sliders, and Yahtzee Bowling

• Cherry On Top – this "candy and more store" celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

• New SPORTS Bar – at this sports lovers' paradise, guests can catch live sporting events and check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker

• Spin U – developed in partnership with legendary DJ IRIE – Carnival's official DJ who has entertained crowds from South Beach to Las Vegas – this fun DJ academy provides aspiring spin-masters ages 15-17 all they need to know to "hit the decks" and rock the club!

These innovations complement a wide range of existing onboard features such as the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, a Serenity adults-only retreat with magnificent ocean vistas, a classic American-style steakhouse serving prime cuts of beef and other gourmet cuisine, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, and The Taste Bar offering bite-size samples from popular Fun Ship 2.0 dining venues.

"We're really excited that the Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program that began rolling out three years ago continues to bring innovative, fun and memorable dining, bar and entertainment options to the entire Carnival Cruise Line fleet and to the millions of guests who sail with us annually," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "The fantastic renovations on Carnival Miracle will also provide our valued travel agent partners with an exciting new cruise experience for their clients."

Carnival Miracle operates year-round departures from Long Beach, Calif., encompassing three different week-long Mexican Riviera cruise options: a three-port itinerary featuring Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas; a two-port option that includes a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta; and a third choice featuring a day-long visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival Miracle will also offer 15-day Hawaii cruises round-trip from Long Beach departing Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, 2015, and Jan. 16, 2016, along with a special one-time 13-day Mexican Riviera cruise departing Jan. 31, 2016.

Crystal Cruises Unveils 2017 Itineraries
Crystal Cruises announced today its 2017 complete roster of global itineraries, with fares available for booking earlier than ever, a full two years in advance. The 2017 cruises and fares were unveiled online at www.crystalcruises.com and in Crystal's first complete two-year Worldwide Cruise Atlas, the most comprehensive cruise planning brochure the line offers, at 236 artfully illustrated pages detailing the diverse and enriching experiences set for the coming two years.

Crystal Cruises Unveils 2017 ItinerariesFollowing a 2016 season that boasts a history-making transit of the fabled Northwest Passage, plus a 102-day World Cruise circling the Pacific Rim and more maiden calls than ever before, 2017 promises for an exhilarating year of firsts, anticipated returns, remote locales and other highlights on all seven continents, including:

• 57 voyages to 268 ports in 84 countries, with more than 150 overnights – the most ever offered in a single year

• 32 Maiden calls to intriguing places like Maroantsetra, Madagascar; Iquique, Chile; and Djupivogur, Iceland; along with lesser known gems such as Calvi, Corsica; Sete, France; and Santa Margherita, Italy.

• Crystal's first-ever voyages to New Guinea, and maiden calls in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, all featured on a January segment of the 99-day Grand Pacific Explorer Grand Cruise

• A return to the Middle East and Holy Land, with Crystal Symphony among the very first luxury ships to visit Doha, Qatar, on a November itinerary that includes a call in Abu Dhabi, allowing for visits to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest in the UAE, as well as the new Louvre museum, set to open in 2015, and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim, scheduled for completion in 2017

• A 94-day Southern Celebracion World Cruise aboard Crystal Serenity, circumnavigating South America and offering exotic adventure in the Galapagos, Antarctica, the Amazon, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and more

• A new 2-night inclusive overland program in Paris on two summer sailings in August

• European options that offer more Mediterranean cruises and variety than ever before; new itineraries beginning or ending in Portsmouth, England and Valletta, Malta; and multiple overnights on virtually every voyage

• Singular voyages include journeys to the North Cape, British Isles, Canary Islands and Holy Land

• Caribbean journeys that begin or end in Charleston, South Carolina

• Crystal's first-ever South Africa Holiday Cruise round-trip from Cape Town, highlighted by exceptional opportunities for safari adventures.

• Itineraries designed around global events, like visiting Stockholm during Sweden's festive Midsummer celebration, Muscat on the Sultan's birthday (Oman's Independence Day) and Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo

"We continue to offer intrepid luxury travelers new ways to explore and experience the world, whether with a new destination or simply a new perspective on a favorite one," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's president and COO.

"We are thrilled to be the first of the luxury cruise lines to unveil a comprehensive 2016/17 two-year planning Atlas along with the corresponding information on our website, and launching full reservations for 2017," said Nitsa Lewis, vice president of marketing. "And as a leader in developing and delivering innovative luxury travel experiences, we're providing the most extensive resource that meets the needs of our Crystal Society members as well as first-time Crystal guests."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.39 - 1.22%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.71 - 2.21%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 + 1.48%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.03 - 4.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When Cunard's Queen Mary departed New York for Europe in July of 1943 she carried a record number of passengers and crew - the most of any passenger vessel in war or peace. How many people did she carry on that historic voyage? (note: the closest answer wins this week's contest)

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - In May of 1942 the former French liner Normandie was seized by the United States government and work began to convert her into a troop transport. We all know what happened during the conversion (...she caught fire and capsized) but how many of you know her new name at the time of the fire?

Answer - The new name for the former ss Normandie after she was taken over by the US was the ss Lafayette.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA, USA


Cruise News - December 29, 2014

The Sky's The Limit On Norwegian Escape
Norwegian Cruise Line's largest ship ever, Norwegian Escape, will offer the most exhilarating and action-packed activities for families and thrill seekers alike when she sets sail from her homeport of Miami in November 2015. The ship will feature the largest ropes course at sea, a three-story multiplex of heart-pounding challenges complete with two planks and five Sky Rails, zip tracks that allow guests to soar through the air. Norwegian Escape's Aqua Park will be the largest at sea and includes a new Aqua Racer slide, while the expansive sports complex boasts a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle miniature golf course. Adding to the family fun, Norwegian Escape will also feature an expanded Kids' Aqua Park; entertainment from Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids; along with the line's first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under.

The Sky's The Limit On Norwegian Escape"Building on the tremendous success of our Breakaway-class ships, we are delivering bigger thrills and more action-packed activities for our largest ship to date," said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "From the extraordinary Sky Rails on the expanded Ropes Course to the exciting Aqua Racer slide, guests sailing on Norwegian Escape will have the family adventure of a lifetime. We can't wait for our guests to experience these incredible new activities."

Sports Complex and Aqua Park - The Ropes Course soars to new heights on Norwegian Escape and dares guests of all ages to conquer 99 different elements. The three-story elevated ropes course will span the entire width of the ship with features on both the port and starboard sides. The course tests the mettle of guests with two Planks, six-inch wide beams that extend eight feet from the side of the ship. The course's exhilarating Sky Rails will put the wind in guests' hair and smile on their faces as they glide through the air on zip tracks, with the longest one bringing guests out over the side of the ship, offering a bird's eye view of Norwegian Escape that is a must-see. There are three Sky Rails on the main Ropes Course and two on the Kids' Ropes Course, which offers kid-size fun, challenges and feats.

The Aqua Park on Norwegian Escape will be the largest at sea and feature four multi-story water slides, a dedicated Kids' Aqua Park, two pools and four hot tubs. All-new on Norwegian Escape is the Aqua Racer slide, the newest tandem waterslide at sea where competitors can race side-by-side on tubes as they twist and turn to the finish line. Back by popular demand, Norwegian Escape will also feature the Free Fall, which first debuted on Norwegian Breakaway. These side-by-side slides offer adventurous guests the chance to literally free fall, as the floor drops from underneath, propelling them into a thrilling loop. For those who prefer a more relaxing ride, there is a family-friendly open-flume body slide.

Norwegian Escape will also bring the Kid's Aqua Park to a new level, with enhanced attractions, an enclosed tube slide and a two-story climbing structure for kids to explore. This watery wonderland offers an incredible array of new features for kids including a multitude of interactive wet elements such as water cannons and elevated buckets that deliver surprise drenchings. Cranks and spray features, along with a multi-story tower, a rope bridge and lookout platform, equal endless fun for children and are sure to leave the littlest guests delighted.

Both kids and kids-at-heart can test their skills on the new nine-hole, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rooftop 9, miniature golf course. Inspired by the Nickelodeon hit-animated television series, this first-of-its-kind miniature golf course will have guests saying "turtle power" when they sink a hole in one alongside favorite characters Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo.

Norwegian Escape's sports complex will also include a full-size basketball court for family-friendly competition and a new bocce ball court, a first for the line.

Nickelodeon(TM) Entertainment - Norwegian Escape will be the sixth Norwegian ship to offer Nickelodeon branded entertainment, which will delight families with the latest in Nickelodeon activities and events that kids of all ages will enjoy, including an opportunity to meet SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star and Dora the Explorer, among other favorite Nickelodeon characters; as well as participate in a variety of exciting interactive Nickelodeon experiences. At the popular Nickelodeon Pajama Jam Breakfast, kids will have the opportunity to enjoy an action-packed experience with their favorite Nickelodeon characters; and at Dora's Dance Party, young cruisers will sing and dance to their favorite songs with Dora the Explorer and Team Nick. Rounding out the fun, additional activities will include Story Time with Dora and Nickelodeon arts and crafts.

Youth Programming - In a first for the line, as part of the Guppies program, Norwegian Escape will offer childcare services for children ages six months to three years. The nursery will include an active area for play time and age-appropriate activities and a separate space for napping. In addition to the nursery services, Norwegian Escape's Guppies program will offer a dedicated open play area for parents and babies to play together, featuring sensory-based games, interactive media and themed activities hosted by an early years coordinator.

Norwegian Escape features a centrally-located, expansive Splash Academy complex on Deck 5, offering age-appropriate supervised activities for children ages three to 12. It is also adjacent and easily accessible to the ship's family-friendly oceanview staterooms, accommodating up to five guests. As on all Norwegian vessels, when parents enter they will utilize Norwegian's e-Youth tablet-based electronic registration system, which allows them to swipe their keycard to register their children and input a password for additional safety to sign in and pick-up their children. Once children sign-in at the colorful and welcoming reception area, a forest-themed play zone offers space for creative games and play time, while an interactive dance space with a corresponding large video screen encourages lots of activity in this central space.

Splash Academy, the ship's youth program, will once again have spaces for specific age groups, along with a Nickelodeon themed night and activities. New on Norwegian Escape, children participating in Splash Academy will enjoy an enhanced version of the popular Circus program, with additional skill options and an innovative grand finale. Children will also have an opportunity to participate in Officer Snook Theme Day, an expansion of Norwegian's current program that will share an interactive environmental message through games and activities. Three to five year olds can explore in their own space decorated with vibrant, engaging colors, along with child-sized furniture and open space for active games and an activity center to encourage creativity. Magnetic white board walls will keep little hands busy in between organized programming.

In a separate area decorated with fun graphics to captivate children's imaginations, the six to nine year olds will enjoy a "hang out" area for lounging with new friends that also features dedicated gaming stations with the latest video games. An activity zone will have space and supplies to create cool arts and crafts.

Children ages 10 to 12 years old will also have their own hangout, with access to the central multipurpose visual dance space and corresponding large video screen, open space for active activities and comfortable bean bags for lounging. In addition, within this space are dedicated stations for video games for individual or group competition.

Rounding out Splash Academy is a cool and comfortable "open zone" lounge area, with sofas and chairs in vibrant colors creating the perfect atmosphere to chill out, and a separate full-size cinema and bean bags for casual lounging and viewing favorite flicks. Entourage, located on Deck 17, is Norwegian's high energy, exclusive teen zone for ages 13 through 17. This hip area gives teens their own unique space that includes trendy lounge furniture and a central gaming station. Complete with sleek, neon lighting, the space also includes favorites like air hockey and foosball. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a teens-only nightclub featuring a nightly teen theme complete with team challenges and giveaways. Entourage is conveniently located adjacent to the ship's video arcade.

Currently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Escape will sail weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The 164,600 gross ton ship will be the largest ever to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

New Company To Offer Two-Night Bahamas Service
Beginning in February of 2015 a new cruise company is planning to offer two-night service from West Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama Island. The company, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, said that it will be using the 1,800-passenger, former cruise ship, Grand Celebration to carry passengers from Florida to the Bahamas with departures alternating every other evening at 6:00 PM from West Palm Beach.

New Company To Offer Two-Night Bahamas ServiceThe ship, which originally entered service in 1987 as the Celebration for Carnival Cruise Lines will be replacing the 1,250-passenger Bahamas Celebration which was damaged after striking an underground object returning from Grand Bahama in October. While the Bahamas Celebration was operated by a different company - Celebration Cruise Line - several executives from Celebration have moved over to the new company which has a different ownership group.

According Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, the two night cruise can be combined with a two, four or six day resort stay to provide an extended vacation. The initial resorts available include the Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort and the Memories All-Inclusive Beach Resort.

The Grand Celebration offers 751 cabins over 9 decks with more than 60 percent of the cabins providing ocean views. The ship also offers 14 suites with balconies. There are five pools onboard along with a spa and fitness center. Public rooms include a casino and a 950-seat theater. Food service is provided in five different venues ranging from complimentary service to specialty restaurants with cover charges.

HAL Crowns ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ Champion
During the Dec. 6 Champions Cruise aboard ms Westerdam, Holland America Line crowned guest Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the line’s second “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion. Mitchell, who represented ms Nieuw Amsterdam, triumphed over 14 other guest competitors to claim the title and take home Holland America Line’s coveted “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Mirrorball Trophy.

HAL Crowns Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Champion A self-described amateur ballroom dancing hobbiest, Mitchell danced in the ship’s main show lounge in three elimination performances before making it to the finals where he executed a waltz and tango with shipboard dancing partner Whitney Szabo in front of a judging panel that included “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers Kym Johnson, Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess and actress Sabrina Bryan.

“We’ve been building up to the Champions Cruise all year and it was an exciting and challenging week for all 15 guest competitors, who each deserve to be congratulated,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Special praise goes out to Brenton for winning the title and dazzling a judging panel of professional dancers.”

Before Mitchell was named champion in the final round, three elimination rounds were held to whittle the 15 competitors down to three finalists. Ian Alldritt of Nepean, Ontario, Canada, representing ms Zuiderdam, and Matthew McGloin of New York City, representing ms Eurodam, also advanced from the early rounds to dance in the final evening’s competition.

The 15 Champions Cruise competitors represented each of the ships in the Holland America Line fleet and are from their respective ship’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competitions that were held onboard every cruise throughout the past year.

Joining the Champions Cruise to perform in a special production show were ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancers: two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. Celebrities who have previously appeared on the hit television show and performed onboard included actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.

Additional events on the cruise included a special fashion show featuring the glamorous show costumes, a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, and a question-and-answer session.

The Dec. 6 Champions Cruise visited the eastern Caribbean, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

Holland America Line’s partnership with ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” features the shipboard program through the 2015-16 sailing season, culminating with another Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean sailing of ms Nieuw Amsterdam.

Princess Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Women More Stressed Than Men During the Holidays
With the holidays in full swing, a new survey released by Princess Cruises found that this is a more stressful time for women than men, with women feeling more pressure cooking meals and hosting parties, while men feel more stress by shopping and receiving unwanted gifts.

Princess Annual Relaxation Report Reveals Women More Stressed Than Men During the HolidaysThe survey also found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed need a vacation to recover from the holidays, with women (65%) saying they need a vacation more than men (56%).

The survey is a special holiday edition of the line’s annual “Relaxation Report” which helps to gauge consumer attitudes toward vacation and relaxation habits.

Causes of Holiday Stress - While the holidays are a joyful time to spend with family and friends, the busy-ness of the season does cause some stress. Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) report they feel stressed during the holidays with women (53%) being more stressed than men (37%). When asked what causes holiday stress, woman cited cooking special meals (39%) and hosting holiday parties (33%), while the stressors for men were shopping for presents (41%), attending parties (15%) and receiving unwanted gifts (17%).

And over two-thirds (69%) agree that hosting family is hard work, with women feeling this more so than men (72% vs. 65%).

Bringing Holiday Joy - When asked what they most enjoy about preparing for the holidays, respondents differed by gender. Nearly half of women (49%) like shopping for gifts while only 30% of men like this activity. More women than men also like giving presents to others (68% vs. 59%), decorating for the season (54% vs. 38%), and listening to holiday music (49% vs. 38%).

Holiday Getaways - The survey found that while nearly three-quarters (72%) take vacation time during the holidays, nearly two-thirds (61%) need a vacation to recover from the holidays, with women saying they need a vacation more than men (65% vs. 56%).

And when asked what type of post-holiday vacation is most desired, warm weather is definitely preferred, with nearly two-thirds (64%) selecting a beach visit and 61% desiring an ocean cruise vacation to a warm weather destination.

The least desired vacations cited were visiting a theme park and skiing (36% and 30%, respectively).

The online survey was conducted using a nationally representative sample from uSamp of 982 U.S. adults ages 18+, during the week of December 15, 2014, and tabulated by the survey tool Qualtrics.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.95 + 2.43%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.56 + 2.40%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 + 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.03 + 2.91%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In May of 1942 the former French liner Normandie was seized by the United States government and work began to convert her into a troop transport. We all know what happened during the conversion (...she caught fire and capsized) but how many of you know her new name at the time of the fire?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the first passenger motor liner on the North Atlantic?

Answer - The motorvessel Gripsholm of the Swedish American Line built in 1925 by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co, Newcastle. The liner sailed from 1955 till 1966 as Berlin for the North German LLoyd.
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 22, 2014

New Ships for Carnival and Holland America
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced new cruise ship orders for two of its brands with Fincantieri S.p.A., the world's largest cruise ship building company.

Carnival new ship will be a sister ship to Carnival VistaThe new cruise ships will be constructed by Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, two of Carnival Corporation's nine industry-leading brands.

Carnival Cruise Line's as-yet-unnamed 3,954-passenger vessel, which is the 26th ship in the line's fleet, will offer many of the newest and most popular features from Carnival's current ships, along with several innovations that will be exclusive to this vessel. The delivery date for the new cruise ship is scheduled for March 2018. Homeport and itinerary information will be announced at a later date.

The new ship will be a sister ship to Carnival Vista, which is slated for delivery in spring 2016. Carnival plans to announce details on the many unique features and innovations of Carnival Vista during a three-day event for media, travel agents and consumers in New York Jan. 22-24, 2015.

For Holland America Line, the new order adds a second Pinnacle class ship to the fleet, a new class of vessels that will debut with the delivery and launch of the ms Koningsdam in February 2016. The new ship, scheduled for delivery in late November 2018, will accommodate 2,650 guests. The new as-yet-unnamed ship will feature new public spaces and venues that will debut on Koningsdam. In addition, many of the familiar spaces that are currently featured across the Holland America Line fleet will be included.

"These beautiful new ships on order from Fincantieri signify our ongoing commitment to provide the best possible guest experience across our industry-leading brands," said Arnold Donald, President & CEO of Carnival Corporation. "New ships with the latest in features, accommodations and innovations really bring the modern cruise experience to life and will help us continue to grow new demand for cruising."

"To have been once more chosen for such an important order is the best recognition for our skills," said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer. "This is an extremely important sign, especially if we consider the shipbuilding industry's present period of evolution, both in Europe and Asia."

For Holland America Line, the new order adds a second Pinnacle class ship to the fleetBono added, "Today Fincantieri can count on a solid order book, without equal in terms of diversification and quality of the product, which is a testament to our leadership in the cruise ship business sector. This position has been solidified over the years also thanks to our relationship with Carnival, a partnership which has allowed us to grow and which is now strengthened by our recent agreement involving the Chinese market and by today's orders. We are hopeful that many others will follow in the future."

All told, Carnival Corporation has refreshed its global fleet – the largest in the world – with more than 30 new ship additions since 2007, including its two newest ships, Regal Princess and Costa Diadema, with another 10 ships scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018.

In March, P&O Cruises UK plans to introduce Britannia, which is the largest ship ever built for the British cruise market. In the fall of 2015, AIDA Cruises will christen its new flagship, AIDAprima.

In 2016, Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled to debut Carnival Vista, a stunning 133,500-ton ship that will be the largest ever in its fleet, and Holland America Line will launch its newest ship, the 99,500-ton ms Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, AIDA will introduce a new sister ship to the 2015 AIDAprima with capacity for 3,250 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship, expected to be the biggest ever built by the brand with the ability to serve 604 passengers.

Looking forward to 2017, Princess Cruises is working with Fincantieri to build a 143,000-ton vessel featuring the highly popular design elements introduced by the brand's two newest ships, sisters Royal Princess and Regal Princess.

Carnival Corporation Reports Significantly Higher Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income for the full year 2014 of $1.5 billion, or $1.96 diluted EPS, compared to non-GAAP net income of $1.2 billion, or $1.58 diluted EPS, for the prior year. Full year 2014 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.2 billion, or $1.59 diluted EPS, which included unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $268 million and $20 million of net charges. Full year 2013 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.1 billion, or $1.39 diluted EPS, which included net unrealized gains (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $36 million and impairments and other charges of $190 million.

Revenues for the full year 2014 were $15.9 billion compared to $15.5 billion for the prior year. Cash from operations for the full year 2014 totaled $3.4 billion compared to $2.8 billion in 2013.

Carnival Corporation Reports Significantly Higher EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "Full year earnings were significantly higher than the prior year primarily due to strong profit improvement at both our Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises brands. We enjoyed some early wins from our collaboration efforts that contributed to our improved results, particularly for onboard revenues. We worked hard to contain costs and achieved an almost five percent reduction in fuel consumption for the year as we continue to implement energy conservation measures. We also made a number of strategic decisions in fleet investments that will position us well for the future."

Commenting on the fourth quarter Donald stated, "Last quarter operating profit more than doubled due to higher ticket prices and onboard spending combined with lower costs, also exceeding previous guidance." During the quarter, the Carnival Cruise Lines brand achieved a significant increase in revenue yields despite a highly competitive environment in the Caribbean. Additionally, Costa's Asia operations achieved double-digit revenue yield improvement on a capacity increase in that region.

New ship introductions during the quarter generated substantial media coverage and positive buzz including the star-studded North American debut of Regal Princess which featured a reunion of the Love Boat cast and numerous guest stars who appeared on the hit TV show, as well as the delivery of Costa Diadema at a stunning and festive inaugural in Genoa, Italy. Carnival said that it also recently placed orders with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for three innovative new ships for its Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Seabourn brands to be delivered in 2018. In addition, Carnival said that it recently sold three of its smaller vessels – Costa Celebration, Grand Holiday and Ocean Princess.

Key metrics for the fourth quarter 2014 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• Revenues of $3.72 billion compared to $3.66 billion in the prior year.

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 2.8 percent for 4Q 2014, which was better than the company's September guidance, up 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.2 percent in current dollars.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD decreased 1.7 percent in constant dollars, which was in line with September guidance, down 1 to 2 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 5.3 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 13 percent to $584 per metric ton for 4Q 2014 from $671 per metric ton in 4Q 2013 and were better than the September guidance of $635 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 4.8 percent in 4Q 2014 compared to the prior year.

• Non-GAAP net income was $210 million, or $0.27 diluted EPS, before U.S. GAAP unrealized losses (non-cash) on fuel derivatives of $277 million, or $0.36 diluted EPS, and other charges of $35 million, or $0.04 diluted EPS.

2015 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at slightly higher prices. Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2015 are running ahead of last year's levels at slightly lower prices driven by transactional currency impacts.

Donald noted, "The current base of business for 2015 builds confidence in our expectation of continuing yield growth with acceleration in yield improvement starting in the second quarter."

Based on current booking trends, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to be up approximately 2 percent compared to the prior year. First quarter revenue yields (constant dollars) are expected to be slightly higher than the prior year and improve during the remainder of 2015.

Carnival said that it expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD, on a constant dollar basis, for full year 2015 to be up approximately 3 percent primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, advertising expenses and product enhancements. Based on current spot prices for fuel, forecasted fuel costs for the full year 2015 are expected to decrease $475 million compared to 2014, net of fuel derivatives, benefiting the company by $0.61 per share. This is forecasted to be partially offset by unfavorable movements in currency exchange rates worth $0.20 per share (includes both translational and transactional currency exchange impacts). Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.60, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.96 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "Based on our current 2015 guidance, we expect to achieve a 50 percent improvement in earnings compared to 2013 and are firmly on a path toward delivering double-digit returns on invested capital."

First Quarter 2015 Outlook

First quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be flat to up 1.0 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the first quarter are expected to be 5.5 to 6.5 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year and are higher than full year guidance mostly due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Current currency exchange rates and fuel prices net of fuel derivatives are expected to benefit first quarter earnings by $130 million compared to the prior year, or $0.16 per share. Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the first quarter 2015 to be in the range of $0.07 to $0.11 per share, compared to 2014 non-GAAP earnings of $0.00 per share.

Royal Caribbean Steaming Ahead Toward Global Emissions Standards
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL) will retrofit 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems, underscoring its commitment to meet or exceed important environmental standards. These systems, also known as scrubbers, will remove more than 97% of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships' diesel engines.

The move will position RCL ahead of all forthcoming International Maritime Organization Emission Control Area emissions standards, and will ensure compliance with existing European Union standards. Additionally, the decision to install AEP systems instead of switching to a fuel with a lower sulfur content will ensure that RCL's ships can be compliant everywhere they sail, as availability of lower-sulfur fuels is limited.

Royal Caribbean Steaming Ahead Toward Global Emissions StandardsRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been involved in development, testing and planning for the use of AEP technology since 2010. Two newly built RCL ships that entered into service this year, Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas and TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 3, were among the first cruise ships to be built with AEP systems installed during initial construction. Royal Caribbean International's Liberty of the Seas has been operating one of its six engines with a retrofitted AEP system for two years. AEP systems "scrub" exhaust gases by injecting high volumes of water spray into the exhaust stream, removing more than 97% of sulfur dioxide emissions.

"AEP technology for maritime vessels is very new, and we expect that by utilizing multiple technological solutions to accommodate the differences among our ships, additional development will ultimately help industrialize AEP technology even more, which will benefit not only RCL but also the larger maritime industry," said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

The company faced significant challenges in order to accommodate the AEP systems on its existing ships – some pieces of which can be as large as a school bus, an entire system having an operational weight of several hundred tons of equipment and liquids. "A retrofit project of this size and complexity – and the scale and intricacy of the research, planning, and design required – is unprecedented for our company, and has required a very systematic process and involved the world's leading expertise in this field," said Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Maritime, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

To ensure the right systems are available for each ship's unique requirements, RCL contracted two different AEP technology suppliers, Swedish company Alfa Laval and Finnish company Wartsila. Additional companies are being hired to execute the installations.

"In addition to the teamwork it takes within our own company to execute a program of this magnitude and make all the necessary process improvements, the collaboration with government agencies has been key," Goldstein said. "Working with our fleets' flag states, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Coast Guard, and Transport Canada to explore technology development has been critical, and we are eager to continue to work with these agencies to explore whether there are additional environmental benefits to using these systems," said Goldstein.

Beginning in January 2015, installation will take place on 13 Royal Caribbean International ships and six Celebrity Cruises ships, during scheduled dry-dockings and while ships are in service. While preliminary work has begun on several of the ships receiving AEP systems, most will take place between 2015 and 2017. Each installation will take approximately eight months.

AEP systems that scrub sulfur particles from exhaust streams are one of several different emissions reduction tools that RCL employs. Another focus is using less fuel, to further the company's goal of reducing its carbon footprint – a typical measurement of greenhouse gas emissions. To use less fuel, RCL has implemented hundreds of energy-saving initiatives throughout its fleet. Several new approaches were taken in building Quantum of the Seas, including a full-hull air lubrication system that reduces friction between the ship and the water, which can result in up to seven percent energy savings depending on ship speed and itinerary; a keycard-operated master switch for lights and air-conditioning in guest staterooms that reduces unnecessary energy usage; and the use of only LED or fluorescent lights.

Anticipated costs for the AEP program have been estimated and included in RCL's capital expenditure and capacity guidance.

Carnival Corporation to Debut its First-Ever Super Bowl TV Commercial
Carnival Corporation today announced it will unveil the first TV commercial from its new multi-brand national marketing initiative during Super Bowl XLIX airing on Sunday, Feb. 1, on NBC.

The commercials were created by BBDO Atlanta, part of BBDO Worldwide, which was recently named Global Agency of the Year by Adweek magazine and is currently ranked the world's most creatively awarded advertising agency network in The Gunn Report. BBDO collaborated with Academy Award-winning cinematographer and Hollywood director Wally Pfister – best known for his work on Transcendence, Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy – to develop Carnival Corporation's first-ever Super Bowl commercial. The final commercial will be a 60-second spot selected from four full-scale production ads.

The final Super Bowl TV commercial will be sourced from the company's recently launched "World's Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge" that gives consumers across North America the chance to provide Carnival Corporation with input on its new advertising creative. Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, this interactive crowdsourcing contest lets consumers "join the company's marketing team" and vote for their favorite creative concept with a chance to win a grand prize of a yearly cruise for life.

Carnival Corporation to Debut its First-Ever Super Bowl TV CommercialCarnival Corporation also announced today that it has narrowed the field of original creative concepts in the Marketing Challenge to four "semi-finalists" based in part on consumer voting and input, and all four concepts are now in full production under BBDO Atlanta and Pfister's direction. The final elimination round kicking off today will narrow the field to two finalists, giving consumers a chance to provide input on the final two concepts, one of which will be the featured TV commercial airing live during Super Bowl XLIX in February.

"There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for telling our story, and we're excited about the opportunity to start a new dialogue with consumers about cruising and use their input in helping us pick the creative concepts," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "With this phase of the marketing initiative, we want to capture what is so special about cruising and sailing in the open sea."

Added Donald: "I personally think some of the concepts are better than others, but what really matters is what millions of guests think. Our goal is to convince those who have never cruised to give us a chance to show them why over 10 million people a year sail on one of our nine brands and why so many of our guests cannot wait to sail with us again."

Consumers can visit Carnival Corporation's new campaign hub created by BBDO Atlanta – WorldsLeadingCruiseLines.com – for details on how to vote in the Marketing Challenge and be entered to win a cruise every year for life. Starting today, rough-cut preview videos of the semi-finalist ad concepts are available for review and voting. The final elimination round will help determine which two finalists emerge from the following spots:

• "Getaway": Cruising gives guests the chance to get away from all the stresses of life

• "Cruise Virgin": These people tell consumers about their first time to cruise – which they will happily remember

• "Message in a Bottle": Special moments of cruising are in a message in a bottle

• "Mystery Spot": This idea contains a surprise that will remind people just how special the sea can be

All four semi-finalist concepts are now in full production under the artful direction of BBDO Atlanta and Pfister, who will use their wealth of storytelling experience to bring these four creative concepts to life and help capture the essence of cruising. Pfister's extensive experience spans decades of filmmaking in Hollywood, including directing Transcendence starring Johnny Depp earlier this year and serving as director of photography on dozens of films, including Moneyball, The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, which earned him an Oscar® in 2011.

"It's an honor for me to get to work with Carnival Corporation and BBDO Atlanta to fully develop and direct these four new ads that will help tell the story of why cruising is such a great vacation, and it is an even bigger thrill to know that one of these creative concepts will run during the Super Bowl," said Pfister. "This is a great opportunity to reach a massive audience with a reinvented view of what cruising can mean. My role is to create an emotional connection to the experience of cruising, so I want to show people that a cruise can move you in many ways, and help us reconnect with each other and with the majesty of the open seas."

Carnival Corporation's first-ever Super Bowl TV commercial is part of the company's recently launched multi-brand marketing initiative that for the first time incorporates all nine of its global brands with television, digital, social and contest elements in an initiative to drive increased awareness, consideration and demand for cruising.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.86 + 3.87%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.6 + 3.58%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.69 - 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.67 + 6.70%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the first passenger motor liner on the North Atlantic?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ship carried U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to France for the Versailles peace conference?

Answer - President Woodrow Wilson, accompanied by a staff of 1,200 was sailing on the George Washington, a former liner of the NGL
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 15, 2014

SS United States Conservancy Announces Redevelopment Agreement
The SS United States Conservancy, the group that currently owns the SS United States, announced this week that they have entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of the famous ocean liner. The Conservancy said that negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel's core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.

SS United States Conservancy Announces Redevelopment AgreementThe group said that the plan remains at an early and delicate phase and that the ship's potential redevelopment represents a multifaceted engineering, real estate, and curatorial undertaking that will take considerable time to advance. While many challenges must still be overcome the Conservancy said that their new partners are well equipped to handle this unique project's scope and scale, and the group looks forward to working closely with them in the months to come.

Because negotiations are advancing on a confidential basis, the group said they were unable to offer further specifics at this time but that they would share additional information as soon possible. The Conservancy said taht it views this as a very positive development which, while still in its initial stages, gives them renewed hope that they can, at long last, Save the United States.

In the announcement, SSUSC Executive Director Susan Gibbs said "We have reached this moment because so many of you have helped us. You are the real heroes of this effort. We are particularly grateful to Gerry Lenfest, whose transformative contributions enabled the Conservancy to take title to the SS United States in 2011, and who has been a steadfast supporter of our efforts. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jim Pollin. Without his leadership gift and challenge grant to the Conservancy last summer - and without such a generous response from far and wide to Jim's call - we would never have achieved this milestone."

While the ship is safe for the moment, this achievement doesn't mean the group's work is done. The Conservancy is continuing to develop plans for a ship-board museum and educational center, and build archival and curatorial collections, document and disseminate the ship's historic importance, plan for contingencies, and work together with their new redevelopment partners to prepare the SS United States for her voyage to her next port of call.

New President for Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Corporation & plc. the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced that Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise Line, with 24 ships, making it the largest of Carnival Corporation's nine distinct cruise brands.

Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise LineDuffy, currently president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), will assume the role on Feb. 1, reporting to Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc.

"Christine is one of the most respected and dynamic leaders in the travel industry," said Donald. "She brings a wealth of experience to Carnival Cruise Line that will help the cruise line continue to deliver unmatched vacation experiences to millions of guests each year."

Duffy has more than 30 years of experience in the travel industry and started her career as a travel agent in Philadelphia at McGettigan Partners. As CEO of CLIA, the leading trade association of the cruise industry, she led many advancements including the globalization of cruise industry associations around the world to create a unified voice promoting cruising to key stakeholders from policy makers to consumers through CLIA's more than 13,000 travel agency members representing over 50,000 travel agents.

In this role, Duffy successfully engaged member cruise lines and industry stakeholders to support CLIA's expansion into new and emerging markets around the world. Before assuming her role with CLIA in 2010, she served as president and CEO of Maritz Travel, the largest corporate meeting, incentive and event companies in the world from 2004-2010.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a dynamic organization with a long history of innovation and industry firsts," said Duffy. "The name Carnival is truly synonymous with cruising and I look forward to joining this talented team to continue the tradition of excellence that has made Carnival Cruise line one of the top cruise lines in the world."

Duffy serves on various travel industry boards including U.S. Travel Association (USTA), the advisory board for Starwood Hotels, and the Board of Directors for Visit Florida. In 2001, she founded Meeting Professionals International's Women's Leadership Initiative, which delivered research and programs to help women in the industry advance in their careers. She also is a member of The Committee of 200, an organization of the world's most successful women business leaders that supports, celebrates and advances women's leadership in business and works to ensure that women will continue to take on more significant and visible leadership roles.

The St. Louis Business Journal recognized her as one of the 25 Most Influential Business Women. Corporate Meetings and Incentives chose her as one of the "Top 10 Women Leaders in the Meeting Industry," and Meetings News magazine named her four separate times as one of the "25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry."

Caribbean's Newest Destination To Welcome First Carnival Cruise Ship In October 2015
Amber Cove, an exciting new destination located in the heart of the Dominican Republic's breathtaking North Coast, known as the Amber Coast, just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata – will welcome its first cruise ship when the Carnival Victory arrives on October 6, 2015, for a day-long call.

The visit by Carnival Victory is the first of 37 calls by eight different Carnival ships that will take place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 100,000 guests during this period.

Amber Coast, just outside the historical town of Puerto PlataAmber Cove will be a featured port on select sailings of Carnival Breeze, Carnival Glory, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Victory from Miami, Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Valor from Port Canaveral, Fla., and Carnival Fantasy from Charleston, S.C.

"Amber Cove is destined to become a cornerstone in creating new itineraries from several U.S. home ports," said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of itinerary planning. "It will provide an unmatched combination of 'fun in the sun' activities and eco-tourism opportunities along with unique sightseeing, dining and cultural experiences to create a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories for our guests," he added.

Designed to serve as the gateway to one of the world's most beautiful cruising regions, Amber Cove features dramatic architectural elements that echo the area's storied Colonial past. The port is situated in a picturesque cove that serves as the backdrop for soaring mountains and lush tropical landscape. Its cobblestone plazas will be lined with a wide variety of retail offerings, including themed restaurants and bars and a marketplace with locally sourced crafts and souvenirs, recreational amenities, and a transportation center for access to land and sea adventures.

The facility will offer two berths that can accommodate up to two large post-Panamax cruise ships simultaneously.

Amber Cove will feature one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in the Caribbean, offering a wide array of landside experiences including beautiful beaches, exciting water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Nearby Ocean World, which is one of the region's largest marine adventure parks, will offer guests many great ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

Dozens of shore excursions will be available, from cross-country adventures in 4x4 Terracross buggies that traverse the rugged countryside and horseback riding on the beach to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and swimming in a pristine natural river pool. Guests can also travel via speedboat to beautiful Paradise Island, one of the Caribbean's top spots for snorkeling and scuba diving, or visit rural coffee plantations and sample traditional Dominican cuisine, rum and seasonal fruit. Or for the ultimate luxury experience, guests can reserve their own private beachside bungalow with the services of a personal chef, bartender and staff.

Amber Cove will also provide easy and convenient access to the nearby historic town of Puerto Plata, named by Christopher Columbus when he discovered the island in 1492. Puerto Plata is home to the first fort built by European settlers in the New World. Visitors to the city can shop in the bustling downtown area featuring numerous artist studios and rum and cigar factories or stroll along the famed Malecon, a three-mile-long open air beach-side boardwalk dotted with bars, restaurants and shops.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils 2016-2017 Asia Season and a Brand-first
Celebrity Cruises has revealed its array of exotic 2016-2017 vacations in Asia.

The Asia season offers vacationers far-flung destination experiences in 16 countries across 28 thrilling cruise vacations. With a lineup of more than 35 different destinations, guests now can explore Asia in modern luxury style from the choice of two award-winning Celebrity ships - Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Constellation.

A brand-first, the premium cruise vacation company will homeport in culture-rich Abu Dhabi with Celebrity Constellation. The Millennium Class ship will set sail on nine- to 15-night itineraries, featuring destination experiences in the Arabian Coast, Arabian Sea, four different ports of call in India with overnights in Muscat and Khasab, Oman; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE. The ship will then offer four Asia cruise vacations, roundtrip Singapore, visiting Brunei; China; Malaysia; the Philippines; Thailand and Vietnam, with overnights in Singapore and double overnights in Bangkok.

Celebrity Millennium's return to Asia will offer 11- to 15-night itineraries with unforgettable journeys in the Far East. Guests can enjoy deep experiences in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as overnights in Bangkok, Beijing, Taipei, Bali, Singapore, Tokyo and more.

Celebrity Cruises Unveils 2016-2017 Asia Season and a Brand-first

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils 2016/2017 Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its 2016/2017 deployment. Highlights include the addition of San Juan, Puerto Rico as a seasonal homeport for Norwegian Gem, along with new eight-day Eastern Caribbean and six-day Western Caribbean Norwegian Escape sailings from Miami. In addition, all guests sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary in 2016/2017 will have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to Harvest Caye, Norwegian's new island destination in Belize.

Seasonally, Norwegian also continues to offer three ships in Alaska, four in Europe, two in Bermuda, as well as a variety of exciting South America; Bahamas & Florida; and repositioning cruises. Norwegian will also continue to offer its unique inter-island Hawaii cruises year-round on Pride of America from Honolulu and short Bahamas itineraries from Miami year-round on Norwegian Sky. The new itineraries open today for group bookings, and go on sale on December 16, 2014 for our Latitudes Rewards guests and President's Club travel partners and on December 18, 2014 for all bookings.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils 2016/2017 Itineraries"Once again, Norwegian Cruise Line continues to offer a wide variety of exciting cruises for our guests to choose from in 2016 and early 2017," said Drew Madsen, Norwegian's president and chief operating officer. "Guests can cruise to the Caribbean year-round while experiencing the incredible innovations on Norwegian's newest ships, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway. In addition, we continue to offer the best of Europe on four beautiful ships including Norwegian Epic year-round, and the opportunity to experience the scenic beauty of Alaska on some of the youngest ships in the industry."

Bermuda - Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and October, 2016. Norwegian Breakaway will return to Bermuda, sailing from New York City on seven-day cruises every Sunday from April 24, 2016 through October 23, 2016. From Boston, Norwegian Dawn will sail seven-day cruises, departing every Friday, from June 3, 2016 through September 2, 2016 and from October 7, 2016 through October 21, 2016.

Caribbean

Norwegian's newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami year-round. Ports of call include St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Norwegian Escape will sail an eight-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 23, 2016, August 6, 2016, and August 20, 2016. Ports of call will include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Escape will also sail a six-day Western Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 31, 2016, August 14, 2016, and August 28, 2016. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. This six and eight-day itineraries can be combined to create an incredible 14-day Caribbean vacation.

Norwegian Getaway, Miami's Ultimate Ship, will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean on seven-day cruises every Saturday from April 24, 2016 to April 23, 2017. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Norwegian's newest destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Norwegian returns to homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2016 on Norwegian Gem. She will sail a seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary from San Juan on October 23, November 6 and 20, and December 4, 2016. Ports of call will include Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Norwegian Gem will also sail a variation of the seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on October 30, November 13, and November 27, 2016. Ports of call include St. George's, Grenada; Castries, St. Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; St. John's, Antigua; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Norwegian Spirit will sail alternating seven-day Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean itineraries departing on Saturdays from Port Canaveral. The Western Caribbean itinerary begins December 10, 2016 and continues to April 15, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary stops in Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands, from December 3, 2016 to April 8, 2017.

Norwegian Jade will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Saturday from Houston from November 19, 2016 to April 15, 2017. Ports of call include Cozumel, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras.

Norwegian Dawn will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from New Orleans from November 20, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Her stops will include Cozumel, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Norwegian Star will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from Tampa from October 23, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Harvest Caye, Belize.

Alaska

Norwegian will continue to sail three ships in Alaska in the summer of 2016: Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel from Seattle, Washington and Norwegian Sun from Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska.

Norwegian Jewel, departing Saturdays, will sail a series of seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruises from Seattle between May 7, 2016 and September 10, 2016. Departing Sundays, Norwegian Pearl will set sail on seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries from May 15, 2016 through September 18, 2016. Both itineraries feature stops in Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

For those wishing to cruise on a longer Alaska itinerary, Norwegian Jewel will sail one ten-day Glacier Bay itinerary on September 17, 2016, and will visit Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway; Icy Strait Point; and Sitka, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Pearl will offer a 10-day Glacier Bay itinerary from Vancouver on May 5, 2016, stopping in Juneau; Skagway; Sitka; Icy Strait Point; and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Sun will sail seven-day Glacier Bay one-way cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska every other week from May 30, 2016 through September 5, 2016. Sailing north from Vancouver, guests will enjoy a cruise through the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and visits to Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, Alaska. On Norwegian Sun's Southbound seven-day Sawyer Glacier one-way itineraries from Seward, Alaska, sailing every other week from June 6 to September 12, 2016, guests will cruise the Inside Passage, Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier and enjoy stops in Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska. Norwegian Sun's one-way cruises give guests the opportunity to see more of beautiful Alaska and make their cruise an adventure by adding on a pre or post-cruise CruiseTour, giving guests the chance to experience more of Alaska.

Norwegian Sun will also offer three seven-day Glacier Bay roundtrip cruises from Vancouver on May 16, 2016, May 23, 2016, and September 19, 2016. Ports of call will include Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and will include cruising the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay.

Europe

Norwegian will offer a four-ship deployment in Europe during the summer of 2016. Norwegian Epic will remain in Europe year-round from her homeport in Barcelona, sailing seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries from April 17, 2016 to November 20, 2016. Her exciting ports of call include Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; Cannes, France; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

On November 27 and December 28, 2016, and February 19, March 12, and April 13, 2017, Norwegian Epic will sail a 10-Day Canary Islands & Morocco itinerary. Her stops will include Tangier, Morocco; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Funchal, Madeira; and Granada (Malaga), Spain. Norwegian Epic will also sail an 11-Day Western Mediterranean itinerary on December 7, 2016 and January 7 and 18, February 8, March 1 and 22, and April 2, 2017. Ports of call include Cagliari, Sardinia; Messina, Sicily; Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

Norwegian Star will return to the Baltic, offering nine-day cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark on May 8 and 24, June 2 and 25, and July 4 to September 5, 2016. This exciting itinerary includes an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as a scenic sail through the Stockholm Archipelago following the ship's afternoon departure from Stockholm, Sweden. Other calls include Warnemünde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; and Helsinki, Finland.

On June 11, 2016, Norwegian Star will sail a 14-day North Cape itinerary, during the summer solstice. This incredible itinerary will set sail from Copenhagen, Denmark and will visit the best of Norway including Alesund, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Trondheim, Leknes, Tromso, Hammerfest, Honningsvag, Molde, and Bergen, Norway. This itinerary can also be combined with a nine-day Baltic Capitals itinerary for the ultimate northern Europe experience.

Norwegian Star will also sail two seven-day Norwegian Fjords itineraries from Copenhagen, on May 1 and 17, 2016. This breathtaking itinerary will sail through the beautiful fjords of southern Norway featuring stops in Alesund, Geiranger, Flam and Bergen.

Norwegian Star will also sail a 14-Day Norway, Iceland, & Faroe Islands cruise from Copenhagen on September 14, 2016. Port calls will include Bergen and Alesund, Norway; Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Thorshavn, Faroe Islands; Reykjavik, Iceland; Greenock, Scotland; and Dublin, Ireland.

Norwegian Jade will return to Venice and sail alternating seven-day Greek Isles and seven-day Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itineraries from May to October 2016. Guests may also choose to combine these two exciting itineraries to enjoy the ultimate 14-day adventure. The Greek Isles sailings will run from May 7, 2016 to October 1, 2016 with calls in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Olympia (Katakolon), Greece, while the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itinerary includes Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Split, Croatia from May 14, 2016 to September 24, 2016.

For an incredible combination of eastern and western Mediterranean itineraries, guests can embark on Norwegian Spirit's 12-day Grand Mediterranean from Venice on May 19, June 12, July 6, August 1 and 25, September 18, October 12, and November 5, 2016. This incredible itinerary visits five different countries, with calls in Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Provence (Toulon), France.

Additionally, Norwegian Spirit will sail a 12-day Grand Mediterranean one-way itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on May 7 and 31, June 24, August 13, September 16 and 30, and October 24, 2016. Her stops include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; and Venice, Italy.

Norwegian Spirit will also sail a spectacular 14-day Grand Mediterranean open-jaw itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on July 18, 2016. Port of call include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Bahamas and Florida

Norwegian Gem will sail seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises from New York in 2016 from April 30, 2016 to May 14, 2016 and from June 18, 2016 to August 27, 2016. This popular family-friendly itinerary includes visits to Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral), Norwegian's private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Along with recent enhancements to add brand favorites Sugarcane Mojito Bar and O'Sheehans Neighborhood Bar & Grill, Norwegian Gem also features exclusive Nickelodeon? programming on board.

On May 21, 2016 and June 4, 2016, Norwegian Gem will sail eight-day Bahamas and Florida sailings that feature an additional sea day, as well as a full day in Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral).

For a shorter cruise option, Norwegian Sky will continue sailing three and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami departing Fridays and Mondays. Ports of call include: Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island.

Norwegian Getaway will also sail a one-time two-day Bahamas itinerary from Miami on September 2, 2016, stopping in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Canada & New England

Norwegian Gem will again offer two summer Canada & New England roundtrip cruises from New York City in 2016. These six-day sailings on May 29 and June 12, 2016 call in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Portland, Maine.

Norwegian Gem will also offer seven-day cruises roundtrip from New York City from September 3 to October 8, 2016, visiting four beautiful ports of call: Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Portland, Maine; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Norwegian Dawn will offer one-way seven-day cruises between Boston, Massachusetts and Quebec City, Quebec from September 9 to 30, 2016. The northbound itinerary features visit to Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Gaspésie, Quebec; and Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec, while the southbound route begins with an overnight in Quebec City, Quebec and then visits Sydney, Nova Scotia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Bar Harbor, Maine. These sailings can be combined for an ultimate 14-day Canada & New England experience.

Hawaii

The recently-enhanced Pride of America will continue to sail her very popular seven-day Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday through April 2018. Offering more than 100 hours of sight-seeing time, ports of call include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawai`i; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

Panama Canal

Back by popular demand, Norwegian Pearl will sail 11- and 10-day Panama Canal itineraries from Miami beginning fall 2016. The 10-day Panama Canal sails November 28 and December 19, 2016, and March 13 and April 3, 2017, with calls in Oranjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The 11-day Panama Canal on December 29, 2016 will include port calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

An alternate 11-day Panama Canal round-trip itinerary on November 17 and December 8, 2016, and March 23, 2017 will include calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

South America

Norwegian Sun returns to South America to sail 14-day South American one-way Westbound itineraries from Buenos Aires to Santiago (Valparaiso) and Eastbound from Santiago (Valparaiso) to Buenos Aires. The 14-day South America from Buenos Aires (Westbound) sails on December 3 and 31, 2016 and January 28, February 25, and March 25, 2017, with calls including Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; and Puerto Montt, Chile. During the cruise, guests will sail Cape Horn, across the Beagle Channel offering breathtaking glacier views, the Strait of Magellan, the majestic Chilean Fjords, the Patagonic Channels, and Canal Moraleda.

The 14-day South America cruise from Santiago (Valparaiso) sails on November 19 and December 17, 2016 and January 14, February 11, and March 11, 2017 with calls in Puerto Montt, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay. During the Eastbound cruises, guests will also cruise the Patagonic Channels, Chilean Fjords, Strait of Magellan; Beagle Channel, and Cape Horn. Guests can also choose to extend their South American exploration with a CruiseTour, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore this region's culture and spectacular destinations such as Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and Easter Island.

Mexican Riviera

Norwegian returns to the Mexican Riviera, offerings cruises from two different homeports. Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day itinerary from Los Angeles from October 2, 2016 to April 23, 2017, with calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Norwegian Sun will sail an 11-day Mexican Rivera itinerary from San Diego on September 30, 2016 and October 11 and 22, 2016. Ports of call will include Acapulco; Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa; an overnight call in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Repositioning Cruises

In spring of 2015, Norwegian will offer a variety of once-in-a-lifetime repositioning cruises including Caribbean repositioning, Transatlantic cruises and Pacific Coastal itineraries.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 43.19 - 2.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.78 - 0.57%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.71 - 0.74%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 43.74 - 2.69%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ship carried U.S. president Woodrow Wilson to France for the Versailles peace conference?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Cunard's Queen Mary 2 carries a distictive item that was originally installed on board the original Queen Mary which is now serving as a hotel in Long Beach, California. What is this distinctive item?

Answer - The distinctive item is the starboard typhoon (ship horn) at the funnel that is from the Queen Mary of 1936.
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 8, 2014

Celebrity Cruises Orders Two New Ships
Celebrity Cruises has signed of a letter of intent for a new class of vessels, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and French shipbuilder STX France announced today. The two 2,900-guest, 117,000-gross-registered-ton ships, developed under the project name EDGE will build upon the modern luxury experience of the brand's Millennium and Solstice class vessels.

Celebrity Cruises Orders Two New ShipsAt 984 feet long, 123 feet wide and 190 feet high, Project EDGE will deliver small ship itineraries with large ship amenities, a perfect vacation experience in step with today's premium vacationer.

"The addition of two project EDGE vessels to our fleet delivers on our long-term strategic plan of moderate capacity growth, and continues the positive momentum the Celebrity brand has achieved in the premium segment of our industry," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

"Our new class of ship will set the standard for premium world travel and deliver the next generation of modern luxury experiences that our guests know and love," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises. "STX France designs and builds some of the most innovative and stylish cruise ships in the world, and project EDGE offers them the opportunity to again set a new standard for modern iconic architecture. On this stunning new ship we will bring our guests even closer to the must-see destinations of the world, while indulging them onboard in the most luxurious accommodations, the finest culinary experiences, and the best hospitality delivered by our dedicated staff."

"We are excited to be collaborating with Celebrity on this dramatic step forward in premium cruise ship design," said Laurent Castaing, managing director of STX France. "This class of ships will be designed to deliver the destination to vacationers who want to experience all the world has to offer."

These vessels also represent a significant leap forward in environmentally friendly ship design, benefiting from new technologies to drive significant fuel efficiency and an ongoing process to ensure the extensive use of sustainable materials.

The company expects delivery of the first ship in Fall 2018, with the second vessel delivered in the early part of 2020. The order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing.

Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are $1.4 billion, $1.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $0.4 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

Capacity increases for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are expected to be 2.4%, 5.5%, 6.7%, 3.8% and 4.3%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.

Virgin Group Announces Plans to Make Waves in the Cruise Industry
Virgin Group, the Branson family-owned branded investment group, today announced the formation of Virgin Cruises, its new cruise line business, as well as the appointment of a CEO and its lead investment partner, Bain Capital. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Proven industry leader Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as CEO and will head the management team. Most recently, Tom has been President and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. Tom also served as President of Disney Cruise Line having joined as part of the founding management team.

Virgin Group Announces Plans to Make Waves in the Cruise IndustryVirgin Cruises will be headquartered in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and plans to design and construct two new world class cruise ships. At this time, the company has not disclosed when it will start operating for competitive reasons. As part of one of the world's most recognized and respected brands, Virgin Cruises will offer guests an outstanding experience and service aimed at broadening consumer targets for the cruise market.

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, "We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. They'll be sailing on the latest ships offering great quality, a real sense of fun, and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service."

Stephen Pagliuca, a Managing Director with Bain Capital, said, "From our earliest conversations with the Virgin team, we recognized there is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travelers from around the world. We know that thanks to the strategic vision laid out by our collective team - and now under the guidance of Tom McAlpin - Virgin Cruises will help reshape consumers' expectations of what a cruise experience can be. All of us at Bain Capital are thrilled to partner with the Virgin team on this compelling opportunity."

Tom McAlpin said, "Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests. Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does."

Virgin Group has partnered with one of the world's leading private investment firms, Bain Capital, to work on this new venture. The partnership is committed to exploring the creation of a global cruise business and setting new industry standards.

Ryan Cotton, a Principal with Bain Capital, said, "We are pleased to pursue this exciting opportunity with Virgin, one of the world's most respected and iconic brands. With a small number of global players, an experience in need of refreshing, and consumers ready for something new and exciting, the industry exhibits all the characteristics of one that is ripe for a new entrant. Drawing on our long history of growing and building great companies, we are confident that together with Virgin and the management team we will build Virgin Cruises into a new favorite for leisure travelers."

Evan Lovell, Partner at Virgin Management Limited said, "Virgin Cruises complements our extensive travel and leisure experience, which includes our award winning global airlines, passenger train service, and new hotel brand which will open its first property in Chicago next month. We are thrilled that Bain Capital is joining us on this journey."

Allen & Company LLC is advising Virgin Group on the transaction.

New CEOs for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises
Recognizing the deep bench of internal talent that has powered its long-term success, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE, OSLO: RCL) named two senior company executives to chart the future course of the company's two largest brands.

Michael Bayley, who worked his way up from an assistant purser's position aboard the Nordic Prince, will serve as President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest cruise brand. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, whose career at the company began in the New England sales office, will serve as President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, a leader in the premium market.

New CEOs for Royal Caribbean adn CelebrityBoth appointments are effective immediately.

Said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd: "This is a happy day for Michael and Lisa, and a proud day for all of us at the company. To recognize these two incredibly talented people with these vital leadership positions after years of dedication, effort and innovative thinking is gratifying for everyone here. I am impressed with the skills they have demonstrated over the course of their careers, and I am excited to see where they take these powerful brands next."

Bayley assumes Royal's helm after a successful term as Celebrity's President and CEO. At Celebrity, he delivered strong results while building the company's "modern luxury" positioning, which resonated successfully with Celebrity's sophisticated customer base. Before his Celebrity role, Bayley served in several senior roles at Royal Caribbean International, including Executive Vice President of Operations. He is credited for playing a key role in the company's international expansion, helping launch company operations in markets around the world.

Said Bayley: "Royal Caribbean International is a brand with an incredible history – and unlimited potential. The ships, personified in the new Quantum class, are some of the best and most innovative in the world. And the crews that service Royal Caribbean International guests have a track record of delighting guests from every culture around the world. I look forward to an exciting future as we raise our game to an even higher level of performance."

Lutoff-Perlo began her company career as a district sales manager in her native New England. She moves to her new role from her position as Executive Vice President, Operations at Royal Caribbean, where she played a critical role in the recent successful launch of Quantum of the Seas, the first in the company's newest class of ships. After a successful sales career, Lutoff-Perlo made her mark as a specialist at bringing new ships to market for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity. In addition to the Quantum class, she played a key role in the launch of Royal Caribbean International's Voyager and Radiance classes, as well as Celebrity's Solstice Class.

Said Lutoff-Perlo: "Celebrity Cruises has done a remarkable job differentiating itself in a crowded and competitive premium marketplace, and with its newly announced Edge class ships, the brand has the opportunity to push its leadership position even farther. I'm excited to tackle that challenge with a team of men and women I know well, including crews that consistently exceed our guests' highest expectations."

Fain said: "No one who has seen either of these two exceptional executives in action can be surprised by their continuing growth as leaders. As a company, we have a mantra of continuous improvement; in Michael and Lisa, we have two talented leaders who will help us continue to deliver on that commitment to our shareholders, employees and guests."

Norwegian Cruise Line Sets Sail For Exclusive Partnership With Margaritaville
Cruisers should get their Fins Up and shakers of salt ready, as the first-ever floating Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar will soon set sail onboard the all-new Norwegian Escape. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: NCLH) Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan announced the news at a company-wide event, with the help of a very special guest ? the legendary Jimmy Buffett who performed for the crowd. Norwegian's exclusive partnership with Margaritaville Holdings LLC extends to Norwegian's island destinations including the new Harvest Caye in Belize and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, as well as other ships in the fleet.

Norwegian Cruise Line Sets Sail For Exclusive Partnership With Margaritaville"Jimmy Buffett is an icon who embodies the island lifestyle and his Margaritaville lifestyle brand which includes restaurants and bars in its portfolio is a perfect fit for Norwegian Cruise Line and the incredible new Norwegian Escape, that will sail the Caribbean and offer our guests the first and only Margaritaville experience at sea," said Sheehan. "We are more than thrilled to form this exclusive partnership with Jimmy and his talented team and we know our guests are going to love the new tropical experiences."

Margaritaville's iconic name brings to mind the desire in everyone to kick back and escape the everyday, if only for a few hours or days. Norwegian Escape's Margaritaville restaurant and bar will embody that essence of escapism with a laid back atmosphere inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett. Nostalgic island moments will come to life with a menu that invites guests to take a bite out of paradise with signature items like the Cheeseburger in Paradise and Who's to Blame Margarita. This venue will be one of Norwegian Escape's many complimentary dining outlets. In addition to the restaurant, Norwegian Escape will feature the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar, a music venue and outdoor bar on The Waterfront. The 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar will feature live nightly performances so guests can enjoy the sounds of the tropics while sipping a signature margarita or "boat drink" and gazing out to the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

"This partnership is a perfect match between two brands that celebrate escapism, relaxing and having fun," said John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville. "Opening our first Margaritaville at Sea on Norwegian Escape will be a huge milestone for our company. We can't wait to bring the Margaritaville experience to Norwegian guests and let the floating ?fin' begin!"

Along with the venues on Norwegian Escape, the partnership also includes Margaritaville branded food and beverage locations on Norwegian's new island destination in Harvest Caye, Belize, set to open in fall 2015 and a 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar on Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, planned to also debut in 2015. In the future, the partnership will extend to other ships in the fleet.

Norwegian Escape will begin weekly seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean beginning on November 14, 2015. The ship will be the largest to home port year-round in Miami, carrying 4,200 guests to tropical Caribbean destinations including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines reveals its new ‘Arctic Explorer’ voyage
Following the success of its first-ever 'Arctic Explorer' cruise for 2015 – which sold out within a week! – Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is again offering guests the chance to experience the awe-inspiring Arctic, one of the most hard-to-reach regions of the world, in Summer 2016. Black Watch's 26-night W1610 ‘Arctic Explorer’ voyage, departing from Tilbury on 17th July 2016, will allow guests to cross the Arctic Circle, witness the majestic fjords of Norway, take in the peaks and pinnacles of Iceland and Greenland, and have a chance at spotting some of the world’s most elusive wildlife – maybe even a Polar Bear!

With three stops in Greenland, this Fred. Olsen Arctic adventure is a unique opportunity to see wonderful wildlife, explore little-known cultures and enjoy some of the best scenic cruising available anywhere! As no direct flights operate out of the UK to this far-flung destination, visiting on a cruise ship is one of the best ways to take it all in; and, because Black Watch is a smaller ship, she is able to take guests even closer to the heart of the destination.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines reveals its new Arctic Explorer voyageThis intrepid Arctic ‘sailing of a lifetime’ will call first at Kristiansund in Norway, which is said to be where the first Norwegians lived. From here, guests can take part is some sightseeing along the harbour front, on board the ‘Sundboat’ – a boat service that has operated since 1876, making it one of the oldest public transport services in existence.

Next, guests should seek out a great position out on deck ready for some fantastic scenic cruising. Passing Rørvik, Torghatten, Seven Sisters Mountain Range – where Black Watch will cross the Arctic Circle – and ‘The Black Glacier’, there will be ample opportunity to take some stunning photographs.

Black Watch then makes a stop at Tromsø – where guests can visit the oldest wooden house in Norway, built in 1789 – and the Arctic Cathedral, a modern church and one of its most famous landmarks.

The cruise then continues to Honningsvåg, the northernmost city in Norway, framed by rugged mountains and the icy Arctic Ocean.

Black Watch then cruises the scenic North Cape, weaving around ‘Bear Island’ and onto desolate and wild Longyearbyen, in Spitsbergen (Svalbard). The beauty of this town is its quiet and serene atmosphere, bypassed by civilisation and overwhelmed by ‘Mother Nature’ – guests are recommended to try the famous Husky dog-sledding, and experience the natural phenomenon of the ‘Midnight Sun’, where the sun is visible 24 hours a day during the Norwegian Summer Season.

Black Watch then cruises the magnificent Tempelfjorden, an inner branch of the Sassenfjorden, near Spitsbergen, and then it is onto Barentsberg, home to only 500 inhabitants, and the second largest town on Svalbard; cruising with Fred. Olsen is one of the few ways in which visitors can reach this remote European outpost.

A cruise around the impressive Jan Mayen Island is next; this volcanic outcrop sits in the Arctic Ocean, and has just one small settlement, called ‘Olonkinbyen’.

Next stop is Iceland’s Akureyri, where ‘culture vultures’ should visit the ‘Street of Arts’, before cruising through Drangaskörd, Eyjafjördur – Iceland’s longest fjord – as well as Hælavikurbjarg and Hornbjarg and Latrabjarg.

Next is Iceland’s breath-taking capital city, Reykjavik. Here, guests can bask in the ambience of the Blue Lagoon, the ultimate relaxation in one of the world’s best natural springs; feel the piercing chill of the Icelandic winds, combined with the steamy warmth of the lagoon’s waters. With a stopover in this thrilling capital, guests will have plenty of time to explore and sample the Thingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls.

Black Watch will then take a leisurely cruise though the Prins Christiansund channel, before setting sail for Greenland.

Black Watch will make her first port of call in Greenland at Qaqortoq, the most populous town in South Greenland. With a pleasant centre, a small square and Greenland's oldest fountain, there is an array of strikingly beautiful colonial buildings, dating from the establishment of the town in 1775.

Next port of call is Narsarsuaq, nestled on the banks of the Tunulliarfik Fjord. The area became home to a United States Air Base in 1941, when it served as a ‘stepping stone’ to the battle grounds of Europe. Whilst fascinating relics still remain, this quaint settlement is now more commonly used as a station from which adventurers can explore the magical Qoroq Ice Fjord.

The landscape is unspoiled and picturesque in the last Greenland port, Nanortalik. Guests will be welcomed by an abundance of delicate purple and lilac flowers, creeping through the cracks in the mountains surface. There is much to explore here, from the thrill of kayaking, to fascinating museums, which feature exhibitions on the Inuit culture that superseded the Norsemen, who settled before them, around 1,000 years ago.

Black Watch then makes her final stop at Kirkwall, on the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Surrounded by windswept countryside, guests can take a tour to visit the 5,000-year-old Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

Carnival To Offer Longer Length Voyages In 2015-16
Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of unforgettable 10- to 14-day voyages on six different ships between October 2015 and February 2016 that feature extended calls at magnificent destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexican Riviera and The Bahamas.

Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a series of unforgettable 10- to 14-day voyages on six different ships between October 2015 and February 2016Reservations opened today on 11 different voyages offered on Carnival Miracle, Carnival Dream, Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine which depart from Long Beach, Calif., Port Canaveral, Fla., San Juan, Miami, and New Orleans and visit more than two dozen tropical destinations, including less traveled ports like Bonaire, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada and, for the first time on a Carnival ship, Tobago. Several of the 10- and 11-day voyages can be combined into three-week-long Caribbean adventures providing an unmatched combination of breathtaking ports of call, amazing experiences ashore, and fun-filled sea days, all at an incredible value.

These new voyages are in addition to a previously announced series of nine 10- to 14-day departures to the Caribbean and Bermuda offered on Carnival Triumph from Galveston and Carnival Pride from Baltimore in 2015-16.

"Based on feedback from our guests and travel agent partners, we're delighted to offer these longer length voyages which provide vacationers an opportunity to visit some of the world's most breathtaking destinations while enjoying all the wonderful on-board innovations and features found aboard Carnival's ships," said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of itinerary planning.

The new voyages include:

Carnival Dream

• Oct. 4-15, 2015: 11-day Caribbean/Bermuda cruise from New Orleans to San Juan featuring Nassau, King's Wharf, Bermuda (overnight call), St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
• Oct. 15-25, 2015: 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans with calls at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and Falmouth, Jamaica (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).
• Jan. 3-14, 2016: 11-day southern Caribbean cruise from New Orleans to San Juan with stops at Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Maarten
• Jan. 14-25, 2016: a 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to New Orleans calling at St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Kitts, Grand Turk and Falmouth (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans).

Carnival Glory

• Oct. 31–Nov. 14, 2015: 14-day Caribbean cruise round-trip from Miami visiting Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
• Jan. 23-Feb. 2, 2016: 10-day cruise from Miami to San Juan calling at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Antigua, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.
• Feb. 2-13, 2016: 11-day cruise from San Juan to Miami visiting St. Croix, St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day round-trip voyage from Miami).

Carnival Sunshine

• Nov. 28-Dec. 9, 2015: 11-day Caribbean/Bahamas voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., to San Juan visiting Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Croix.
• Dec. 9-19, 2015: 10-day Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Port Canaveral featuring St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica, Martinique, St. Croix, and Grand Turk (the above two cruises can be combined to create a 21-day voyage round-trip from Port Canaveral).
• Feb. 21-March 5, 2016: 13-day southern Caribbean cruise round-trip from Port Canaveral calling at St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, Scarborough (Tobago), Grenada, Martinique, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

Carnival Miracle

• Jan. 31- Feb. 12, 2016: 13-day Mexican Riviera voyage round-trip from Long Beach, Calif., calling at Cabo San Lucas (two-day call), La Paz, Mazatlan, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Manzanillo, and Puerto Vallarta (overnight call).

In addition to dining, entertainment and activity options available on board, each of these destinations offers beautiful beaches, interesting historical attractions and natural landmarks, and unique sightseeing, dining and shopping opportunities. During these cruises, guests can zipline across the lush countryside, view centuries-old architectural structures, visit world-class museums, and snorkel and scuba dive in crystal-clear waters teeming with tropical fish and other sea life.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.07 + 3.96%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.23 + 9.60%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.69 + 1.13%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 44.95 + 5.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 carries a distictive item that was originally installed on board the original Queen Mary which is now serving as a hotel in Long Beach, California. What is this distinctive item?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - This week we have another visual Cruise Trivia Question. The picture below was featured in a cruise brochure from the 1960's. Name the ship.

Answer - It`s the 1st class sports deck of the SS Rotterdam of the Holland-America Line
courtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - December 1, 2014

Seabourn Orders Second 604 Passenger Ship
Seabourn has announced that it has exercised its option for a second new 40,350-GRT ship to be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. It will be a sister ship to the newbuild announced earlier this year. The first new Seabourn ship is scheduled for delivery in late 2016, and the second ship will be delivered in spring, 2018.

Seabourn Orders Second 604 Passenger Ship Hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany will also design the second new ship in its entirety, creating all indoor and outdoor guest areas, including multiple dining venues; the Spa at Seabourn; showrooms; casino and lounges; outdoor deck areas; and the innovative and popular Seabourn Square, the social hub of the ship with a club-like ambiance.

"There has been an incredible amount of excitement and interest since we announced the order for the first ship, and we're very pleased that the demand for our brand has allowed us to add a second new ultra-luxury ship to our expanding fleet," said Richard D. Meadows, Seabourn's president. "These two new ships will offer the understated elegance we are known for, as well as new amenities, innovations and modern design features that embody the hallmarks of Seabourn."

Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri Chief Executive Officer, stated: "When dealing with such important investments, exercising an option should never be taken for granted. We are very glad that Seabourn decided to 'double' its trust in us, especially considering that our partnership is very young and getting stronger quickly. I believe that this clearly demonstrates that new clients as well as old, such as Seabourn's parent company Carnival Corporation, and the market as a whole, consider Fincantieri as the world leader in the cutting-edge cruise line sector including the ultra-luxury segment where our partner for this project operates."

The new ships' configuration will be based on the highly popular Seabourn Odyssey-class ships, with one additional deck and new expanded public areas. Each ship will carry just 604 guests based on double occupancy in luxurious all-suite, veranda accommodations. The interior design will maintain Seabourn's high ratio of space per guest and enable highly personalized service by nearly one staff member per guest on board.

Both of the new ships will continue the fleet modernization that the line began in 2009 with the launch of Seabourn Odyssey. This award-winning new class of ship, which includes Seabourn Sojourn (2010) and Seabourn Quest (2011), has won acclaim from luxury cruisers, travel agents and journalists alike, one of whom proclaimed the design "a game-changer for the ultra-luxury cruise segment." With the addition of these two new vessels, Seabourn will have the most modern, ultra-luxury fleet in the industry.

The vessels will replace the capacity that is leaving the Seabourn brand with the sale of Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend. These ships will be transferred to their new owners in April 2014, April 2015 and May 2015, respectively.

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas Returns from Drydock
Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas, the largest cruise ship based in Asia Pacific, has just successfully completed her month-long $80 million revitalization bringing guests in the region a variety of first-at-sea features such as the FlowRider surf simulator and Virtual Balcony staterooms.

In addition the ship also received a 3D cinema, digital signage, a new Diamond Club for Crown and Anchor Society members as well as new dining options including Izumi Japanese Cuisine, Giovanni’s Table Italian trattoria and Chops Grille steakhouse. The ship’s revitalization was carried out under a contract with Sembawang Shipyard, a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd. and is also the largest cruise ship revitalization project ever completed in Singapore. The newly revitalized ship is sailing today from Singapore to Sydney where she will be based for her 2014/15 winter-spring season. She will then return to Singapore next April to feature a 10-night cruise to Tokyo calling at Nha Trang, Hong Kong, Taipei (Keelung) and Nagasaki.

The ship also will homeport in Hong Kong from June to October 2015 with 22 roundtrip sailings ranging from three- to 10-nights and visit ports-of-call including Okinawa, Nagasaki, Japan; Jeju, South Korea; Sanya, China; Ho Chi Minh and Hue/Danang (Chan May), Vietnam.

Royal Caribbean to Transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that Majesty of the Seas will transfer from its Royal Caribbean International cruise brand to its Pullmantur brand in 2016. Majesty of the Seas' last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International will depart on April 29, 2016. She will then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur's brand standards and offerings.

Holland America Line announced today that effective Dec. 1, Orlando Ashford will join the company as president "Majesty of the Seas has created wonderful memories for millions of guests, and we expect this record of success to continue as she transitions to Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "The vessel's transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets."

With the addition of Majesty of the Seas, Pullmantur's total guest capacity will increase by more than 20 percent.

"The transfer of Majesty of the Seas will play an important role in Pullmantur's Latin American growth strategy, and helps us become one of the most widely recognized brands in that market," said Pullmantur's president and chief executive officer, Jorge Vilches. "The additional capacity will help us meet the rising demand for Pullmantur's distinctive Latin-style cruise holidays."

Majesty of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France and sailed its maiden voyage on April 26, 1992. The 74,077-ton ship carries 2,350 guests (double occupancy) and 912 crew. Most recently, Majesty of the Seas was sailing year-round three- and four-night cruises from Miami, often visiting Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas. While Majesty of the Seas caters to all types of cruise passengers, she is known for her first-time cruisers, offering newcomers the opportunity to get a feel of the cruising experience. Following the transition, all three Sovereign class ships - Sovereign, Monarch, and Majesty - will be operated by Pullmantur Cruises.

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006 it has belonged to U.S.based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Currently, Pullmantur's fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 11,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than half of its business is located.

Cunard Line to Welcome Shirley Jones Aboard Queen Victoria’s 2015 World Cruise
Cunard Line is thrilled to announce that Academy Award® winning actress Shirley Jones will sail aboard Queen Victoria as a Cunard Insights speaker during the 2-17 February 2015 Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles segment of the World Cruise. Jones will be accompanied by her husband, actor and comedian Marty Ingels. Fans and guests on board the ship will enjoy a book signing of her recently released biography, Shirley Jones: A Memoir, as well as two Q&A sessions and screenings of her films.

Cunard Line to Welcome  Shirley Jones Aboard Queen Victoria’s 2015 World CruiseShirley Jones starred in the film adaptations of several musicals in the 1950s and 60s, including Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” (1955), “Carousel” (1956) and “The Music Man” (1962). Although she won an Academy Award® for her controversial role in the film “Elmer Gantry” (1960), it was her role as the lovable matriarch in the hit 1970s TV show “The Partridge Family” that won the hearts of millions.

“We are delighted to welcome Shirley Jones aboard Queen Victoria in February,” said David Dingle, CEO of Cunard Line. “Her work in iconic films such as ‘Oklahoma!’ and her role in ‘The Partridge Family’ are beloved among Cunard’s guests, and we are certain they will enjoy this unique opportunity to learn more about Shirley during the 15-night sailing.”

“I am overjoyed to travel on board Queen Victoria,” Shirley Jones said. “I have never sailed with Cunard before, nor have I traveled through the Panama Canal. I look forward to this adventure and the chance to experience Cunard’s heritage, as well as a chance to meet my fans along the way.”

Shirley Jones will be a part of Cunard Line’s illustrious history of hosting famed entertainers with peerless cachet. Legendary notables such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant and Clark Gable frequently crossed the Atlantic on Cunard’s earlier Queens, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Among the many celebrities who have sailed over recent years are Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton and James Taylor. Since Queen Victoria was launched in 2007, she has welcomed distinguished visitors such as HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Duchess of Cornwall.

Financial Highlights
On October 14, 2014, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 (U.S.) per shareOn October 14, 2014, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on December 12, 2014, to shareholders of record on November 21, 2014.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by November 21, 2014.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on December 1, 2014 (US$1 = 63.66183 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on December 1, 2014, will be 15.91546 pence per share.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE:RCL) will replace Bemis Company Inc. (NYSE:BMS) in the S&P 500, and Bemis will replace Concur Technologies Inc. (NASD:CNQR) in the S&P MidCap 400. SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) is acquiring Concur Technologies in a deal expected to be completed soon pending final approvals. Bemis has a market capitalization that is more representative of the mid cap market space

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 42.39 + 0.95%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.29 + 1.42%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.66 - 4.32%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 42.66 + 1.09%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
This week we have another visual Cruise Trivia Question. The picture below was featured in a cruise brochure from the 1960's. Name the ship.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Name the former liners that were sold to the Iranian government for use as accommodation ships in the 1970's?

Answer - Those would be the former Italian Line ships, the Michaelangelo and Raffaello (which I was fortunate enough to sail on in 1974).
courtesy of Steve Alpiner

VACATION & CRUISE SPECIALS
Check out these great deals from CruisePage.com

Royal Caribbean - Bahamas Getaway from $129 per person
Description: Experience the beautiful ports of Nassau and Royal Caribbean's private island - CocoCay on a 3-night Weekend Getaway to the Bahamas. Absorb everything island life has to offer as you snorkel with the stingrays, parasail above the serene blue waters and walk the endless white sand beaches. From Miami.
Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
Description: Enjoy a wonderful 3 Day cruise to the fun-loving playground of Nassau, Bahamas. Discover Nassau, the capital city as well as the cultural, commercial and financial heart of the Bahamas. Meet the Atlantic Southern Stingrays, the guardians of Blackbeard's treasure.
NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
Description: What a charming little chain of islands. Walk on pink sand beaches. Swim and snorkel in turquoise seas. Take in the historical sights. They're stoically British and very quaint. Or explore the coral reefs. You can get to them by boat or propelled by fins. You pick. Freestyle Cruising doesn't tell you where to go or what to do. Sure, you can plan ahead, or decide once onboard. After all, it's your vacation. There are no deadlines or must do's.
Holland America - Eastern Caribbean from From $599 per person
Description: White sand, black sand, talcum soft or shell strewn, the beaches of the Eastern Caribbean invite you to swim, snorkel or simply relax. For shoppers, there's duty-free St. Thomas, the Straw Market in Nassau, French perfume and Dutch chocolates on St. Maarten. For history buffs, the fascinating fusion of Caribbean, Latin and European cultures. For everyone, a day spent on HAL's award winning private island Half Moon Cay.
Celebrity - 7-Night Western Mediterranean  from $549 per person
Description: For centuries people have traveled to Europe to see magnificent ruins, art treasures and natural wonders. And the best way to do so is by cruise ship. Think of it - you pack and unpack only once. No wasted time searching for hotels and negotiating train stations. Instead, you arrive at romantic ports of call relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Holland America - Alaska from From $499 per person
Description: Sail between Vancouver and Seward, departing Sundays on the ms Statendam or ms Volendam and enjoy towering mountains, actively calving glaciers and pristine wildlife habitat. Glacier Bay and College Fjord offer two completely different glacier-viewing experiences.
|  Home  |  About Us  |  Suggest-a-Site  |  Feedback  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy  | 
This page, and all contents, are © 1995-2006 by Interactive Travel Guides, Inc. and/or its suppliers. All rights reserved.
TravelPage.com is a trademark of Interactive Travel Guides, Inc.
Powered by TravelServer Software